VERNON Leon Macklin fired El Jaish to the Qatar League triumph as they posted a 74-65 victory over Al Gharafa last week. The American then exuded confidence that the Armymen would live up to the expectations at the Qatar Cup and Emir’s Cup.

Power forward Macklin was the hero with 38 points as Jaish remained unbeaten in the league, winning their 18th match in a row to claim the title after the 2007-2008 season. 

“We played as a team in the tournament. Gharafa were a difficult side, but we played really well in the last quarter,” Macklin told Doha Stadium Plus. “Ours was a team effort. We hope to maintain it in the next two cup competitions.”

The 30-year-old, who played the entire match, scored 28 points and finished with a 100 per cent free-throw record, converting all 10 attempts he made.

Captain Fadi Hani Abilmona and James Davon chipped in with 13 points each for Jaish while Sammy Monroe top-scored for Gharafa with 14.

Gharafa needed a win in the last round to force a title-deciding play-off, but the soldiers were in no mood to relent.

“Gharafa proved to be a hard nut to crack, but I thank the players for their fighting mentality. It was a great win,” said Jaish coach Hatem Mamlouk, who joined the side from Al Arabi just before last season’s Emir’s Cup. 

“I also congratulate the club’s Basketball Head Mohammed Al Obaidly. He has been the driving force and worked really hard on building the team for the last 11 years,” added Mamlouk.

Jaish led 19-18 after the first quarter, but Kousay Hatem’s side fought back to take a 41-39 lead in the next.

The Emir’s Cup champions bounced back strongly in the third where they scored 17 against Gharafa’s 11 to take a 56-52 lead going into the last quarter of the match. 

“Macklin as usual was excellent. He once again delivered at the right time,” Mamlouk added. 

Jaish would be keen to extend their domination in cup competitions as well.

“We’ve a great coach and nothing is impossible with this side. We’ll put up an excellent show as we’re motivated and not over-confident,” said Macklin, who joined Jaish in 2014. 

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