AL GHARAFA defeated Al Rayyan 104-91 in the Qatar Cup final last week, avenging last year’s defeat.
It was Gharafa’s fourth Qatar Cup triumph, after their success in 2011, 2014 and 2015.
The victory in front of home fans came as a huge relief for coach Kousay Hatem and his players, who had failed to win a trophy since the beginning of last season and also finished second to El Jaish in the league this time.
American guard Michael Taylor was the star performer for Gharafa by netting 43 points, including nine rebounds and six assists, during his 29-minute stay on the court. Sammy Monroe Jr contributed 22 points and 11 rebounds.
“It was really frustrating to finish as the second best in every tournament since the start of last season despite having a good squad. Something wasn’t clicking at all. Finally, we broke that jinx. Thanks to God, we’ve been able to achieve it,” Hatem told Doha Stadium Plus.
For Rayyan, who had finished fourth in the league, Abdelrahman Abdelhaleem contributed 26 points, two assists and eight rebounds.
Gharafa had a fine start and led 35-23 after the first quarter, but Rayyan were always in the game and came back strongly in the second, adding 26 points against the rivals’ 18.
The third quarter could have gone either way, but Gharafa managed to hold their nerve to take a slender 78-76 lead.
However, Rayyan failed to exert pressure against Gharafa’s controlled aggression in the fourth.
“We’ll now focus on the Emir’s Cup. We want to finish the season on a high as we missed the league title. This’ll be a perfect end to the season,” added Hatem, who has been coaching Gharafa for the last 11 seasons.
Meanwhile, the season-ending Emir’s Cup action started on Tuesday at the same venue.