Michael Dixon wanted to make sure that US Monastir’s Basketball Africa League (BAL) wouldn’t finish in the Quarterfinals on Sunday, and he delivered one of his best performances of the season.
The former Memphis and Missouri University came up with a man-of-the-game display as US Monastir demolished Cape Town Tigers 106-67.
Dixon finished with a 9-of-12 shooting, including 4 three-pointers en route to a game-high of 23 points.
The win ensured Monastir a place in the Semi-Finals where they will take on the winner of the game between Zamalek and SLAC.
It was US Monastir’s fifth win in six BAL games this season.
Radhouane Slimane opened the score with a 3-pt over Billy Preston, in what was Monastir’s first of 14 3-pts.
Cape Town Tigers’ new addition Cleanthony Early responded right after with a 3-pt, but the former NBA player with the New York Knicks was unable to carry his team to victory.
Slimane added 16 points, Souleymane Diabate and Mokhator Ghayaza contributed 13 points each off the bench, and reserve Neji Jaziri, who checked in the later in the fourth quarter, made the most of his 4:34 minutes to contribute 10 points on 3-for-4 shooting.
Preston led the way for Cape Town with 17 points, Early added 15 and Pieter Prinsloo buried 4 of his 7 3-pt attempts to finish with 14 points.
“We have been preparing for the [BAL] playoffs since Senegal,” said Dixon, who played a major role in helping Monastir to a 4-1 mark in the Sahara Conference held in March in Dakar.
“We played every two days since we left there. We have a goal. Everybody contributed, and keep pushing for our goal, which go for the championship,” Dixon summed the game up.
Talking about his performance, the 31-year-old guard explained: “I keep putting a lot of work on my game these last years. I just want to show that I know how to play basketball the right way.”
Prior to the BAL playoffs, Cape Town head coach Relton Booysen warned that his players needed to able to compete for more than three quarters.
And, on Sunday, Cape Town signalled intentions of competing.
After a heavenly-matched opening quarter, Monastir used a 9-2 to stretch to their first biggest lead (31-20) in the first half.
But after a timeout, Tigers used a 6-0 run (31-26), a run that started with a Cleanthony Early’s block on Slimane.
Booysen called on his second unity for the second part of the second quarter, but a full-court defence disrupted every Cape Town’s attempt to score.
By making 17 of their 34 Field-Goal attempts, Monastir headed to the locker room with a 44-33 lead.
Ball movement was the biggest difference between Cape Town and Monastir, with the latter finishing with 32 assists, 16 more than the Tigers.
Although Booysen’s team threatened the runners-up of last year’s BAL, Monastir never panicked and seemed in control of the game.
The third quarter was the most balanced one with Monastir taking a 27-26 advantage.
However, Monastir used a strong final quarter to outscore Cape Town 35-8 and close the game out.
“The difference was the mistakes that we made, and they knew how to capitalise on our mistakes,” acknowledged Cape Town’s Evans Ganapamo who finished with 10 points.
“As a team I don’t think we played well, this is why we lost the game,” the Central African Republic player said.
“At the end of the day when you look back, it was a long journey. We came from far. I don’t want to say that we should be proud because we lost by 40.”Cape Town closed their 2022 BAL campaign with a 2-4 record.