Final (12:30 PM-1:30 PM) Sunday, Jan 15, 2006
  1 2 T
Asr (6-3-0) 14 21 35
Inshirah (5-3-0) 6 26 32

Asr upsets Inshirah by shutting down Syed Jan 20, 2006
by Zuhair Fancy  

The first time these teams met, Inshirah dominated and won by a 51-36 score. Yet since that defeat, Asr regrouped and put together a 4-game winning streak in which they played solid defense and spread out the offensive attack. Asr indicated that their game plan was to keep Rihard Suler from dominating on rebounds and prevent Mohammed Syed from getting clean looks from three-point land. One problem was resolved before the game even started, as Suler did not suit up. This only left the task of shutting down Syed who led the league in three-point attempts with 69, which was more than most teams' total attempts.

The game began slow with Asr playing a tight defensive game as they marked Syed at all times and prevented him from getting open shots. Inshirah did not seem to run set plays for Syed as barely touched the ball on offense in the first half - a strange game plan especially considering Syed led the team in scoring. The first half ended with Asr leading 14-6 and scoring 10 of their 14 points from the free-throw line. Zahir Kolia led Asr with 8 points while Kareem Tony paced Inshirah with 4 of his teams' 6 points. Syed was held to only 2 points and 3 shots in the first half. Inshirah took another blow as big man Michael Aro was forced to leave the game for another commitment, he had played well up to that point racking up three blocks and being a defensive presence.

The second half saw Syed get more involved as he took the ball into his hands more often, but his teammates still did not run many screens for his to get him clean looks when shooting. Asr continued to maintain their lead but with 11 minutes left in the game Kolia picked up his fourth foul and was forced to the bench. Seizing the opportunity, Inshirah clawed back into the game and called a timeout with just over five minutes left in the game and trailing 28-27. The teams traded baskets coming out of the timeout and with 3 minutes left, the game was tied at 32. Reza Mohammed found himself at the free throw line down the stretch and made Inshirah pay as he put his team up 34-32. Inshirah had the ball down 34-32 in the final minute, but Irfaan Bajwa got trapped with a double-team up high and turned the ball over. Bajwa was forced to foul to stop the clock and put him out of the game as he picked up foul number 5. Mohammed hit one of the free throws but Inshirah turned the ball over again and Syed fouled out as well as he was forced to commit a foul to stop the clock. Asr held on to the ball and ended up winning 35-32.

Mohammed led all scorers with 15 points and added 8 rebounds, he hit 10 of 12 free throws and made Inshirah pay for putting him on the line. Kolia finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds and played well defensively. Tony and Syed who both finished with 11 points each led Inshirah. Inshirah is the first higher seed to lose to a lower seeded opponent in this playoffs, but Asr deserves all the credit as they played their gameplan to perfection. They limited Syed, who shot 2 for 7 from the three-point area and kept the offense simple by moving the ball and playing well as a team.

Asr will now move on to face the undefeated Ikhlas, when these teams met in the regular season it was Ikhlas winning by a score of 52-43.