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May 27, 2022

Zamalek bounce back after disappointing semifinal to finish third

Zamalek beat Forces Armées et Police (FAP) 97-74 on Friday in Kigali to finish third in the 2022 Basketball Africa League (BAL).

It was Zamalek’s third straight victory over FAP.

Last year, the reigning BAL champions beat FAP 82-53 in the quarterfinals before getting away with a 77-63 triumph last month during the Nile Conference.

FAP led Zamalek (3-2) in the opening minutes of the game, but it was a matter of time before Zamalek turned things around. 

Zamalek outscored FAP 8-0 for a 13-6 lead late in the opening quarter.

And although FAP responded with five points to cut the deficit to 13-11, two 3-pts from Edgar Sosa and Mohab Abdellatif earned Zamalek a 19-11 lead at the end of the first ten minutes.

FAP’s Charles Minlend Jr. came off the bench to re-energise the Cameroonians’ offence, but his 12 points in 10 minutes in the second quarter proved fruitless as Zamalek headed to the locker room with a 42-29 lead. 

DJ Strawberry led all players in scoring with 20 points; Edgar Sosa and Mikhael McKinney added 17 points apiece to help Zamalek close the 2022 BAL season with a 7-1 mark.

Unlike their meeting last month in Cairo, where FAP forced Zamalek to step up and bring their A-game to stay undefeated, Friday’s Third-Place game was a one-sided affair from the very beginning.

As much as FAP tried to stay in the game, especially with the support of a group of enthusiastic fans inside the BK Arena, heading to last quarter trailing 65-51 was a damage they couldn’t recover from.

Minlend Jr. and Alexis Wangmene finished with a team-high of 17 points each, and Joel Almeida contributed 14 in the losing cause. 

Zamalek made the most of the deeper rotation to keep FAP at bay thanks to a productive bench that outscored FAP’s 43-29. 

At some point in the game, the Cameroonian champions used a 12-point scoring run (77-53), but Zamalek never panicked to bounce back from a disappointing semifinal defeat to US Monastir two days prior.

Later in the fourth quarter, when the game looked almost decided (74-53), Zamalek Ahmed Azab collided with teammate Eslam Salem, an incident that caused the former some nose bleeding. 

Azab received medical attention on the floor, and after approximately 15 minutes of stoppage, the game resumed, but Azab didn’t return.

Former FIBA AfroBasket MVP Ike Diogu, who did everything he possibly in the semifinal, sat out due to an injury.

FAP forward Brice Bidias insisted that finishing fourth was “a huge achievement for FAP. Our goal this season was to improve from last year. We did that. Even though we lost to Zamalek today, I am happy for what we were able to achieve here in Kigali.”

Friday’s BAL action was marked by the attribution of annual awards.

The 2022 All-Defensive Team included Childe Dundão and Abou Gakou (Petro de Luanda), Wilson Jean Jacques (REG), Brice Bidias (FAP) and Ater Majok (US Monastir).

Petro de Luanda’s José Neto received the 2022 Coach of the Year award while Zamalek’s Anas Mahmoud received the annual Sportsmanship award.