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Ahli regain Jordan Basketball League crown

By Aline Bannayan - Dec 24,2018 - Last updated at Dec 24,2018

AMMAN — Ahli were crowned Jordan basketball champions — a title that had eluded them since 1994 — when they won Game 5 against Kufr Youba 73-64 in the best-of-five play-offs for the title of the Jordan Basketball league, which ended on Sunday evening.

Ahli forced a title-deciding match after Kufr Youba won the first match 92-85 before Ahli won the second 95-78. Kufr Youba came back to win game three 87-77, but again Ahli leveled the series winning 80-74.

Ahli made history this year. After disbanding the team for over a decade, the club won the Jordan Cup earlier this season, thanks to the efforts of its governing board of directors led by the late Said Shuqom. 

Former star Zeid Alkhas was assigned as team coach and the combined efforts of the team led by Zeid Abbas, Ibrahim Hamati and a young lineup seemed determined to win, as Jordan's first player draft and national team stars were dispersed to play among the clubs to recapture the zeal of competition.

Veteran club player Imad Saeed replaced Alkhas during the season as Ahli eliminated Wihdat 87-84 and 76-70, in the best-of-three semifinal round to move to the final playoffs, while Kufr Youba eliminated Orthodoxi in closely contested matches beating them 65-63, and 76-73.

Wihdat went on to beat Orthodoxi to take third place in the league, which seemed to revive memories and a competitive spirit in the Kingdom's second most popular sport, with many closely contested  matches early in the season. Titleholders Riyadi and Jazira failed to make it to the final four after an inconsistent season. Riyadi, champions for the past two seasons, lacked the winning edge, while Orthodoxi stumbled in the final four.

In the 2015-16 season,  Riyadi were crowned league champions — a title which had eluded them for 20 years — when they beat titleholders Orthodoxi. Riyadi had last won the league in 1997. Riyadi won the League again in the 2016/2017 season.

Orthodoxi, who won their record 23rd league title in the 2014-2015 season, won the Jordan Cup in 2016. The Basketball League began in 1952, and has had 59 editions with eight teams crowned champion. It was cancelled in three seasons and discontinued once. Orthodoxi have won 23 times, Ahli 21, Zain (Fastlink) 6 times, ASU four times, Riyadi and Jazira-Aramex 2, while, Urdun, Watany and the Electricity Co. have each won once.

Teams like former league and cup champs Applied Science University, Ittihad and Zain have pulled out of the competition.

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