Khaman Maluach double-double sinks Al Ahly 

Khaman Maluach protects the rim against Al Ahly’s Mohamed El Gendy during Wednesday night’s game. PHOTO/COURTESY OF BAL 

What you need to know:

  • The Ugandan side held on for a massive win to improve to 1-3 and maintain hopes of qualifying. 

Everything good about Ugandan champions City Oilers has the name Khaman Maluach on it.

The South Sudanese big man was once again on top of his game as the Oilers stunned Basketball Africa League reigning champions Al Ahly 82-81 Wednesday night in Cairo, Egypt. 

Maluach, only 17 years old, barely rested throughout the game and still had the energy to jump in front of Amin Ehabu and deny him a clean look that would have won the game for the Egyptian giants. 

City Oilers went into the game with their backs against the wall following three straight defeats to start the competition.
And when he needed to rise to the occasion, Maluach took the mantle and scored a game-high 27 points plus 16 rebounds.

It is the third straight game the Duke University-bound Maluach is posting a double-double but the first time that has come with victory for his team. 

He shot two-for-four from downtown, eight-for-13 from inside and was five-for-five from the free throw line. Of the 40 minutes of the game, Maluach played 38:54, staying on the floor even in the fourth quarter when in foul trouble. 

City Oilers, who lost the opening three games, entered the contest needing to win to maintain any hopes of making the BAL Playoffs slated for late May in Kigali, Rwanda.

The Ugandan champions started off well and led 23-21 at the end of the first quarter, before taking a three-point advantage (38-35) into the halftime break.

Al Ahly, backed by the home crowd, came out of the locker room guns blazing and dominated the third frame 29-18 to lead by eight (64-56) going into the final quarter.

Patrick Gardner, who ended the game with 19 points and eight rebounds, did most of the damage in the third quarter as the Oilers were reminded of how tough the task is against Africa’s biggest giant. 

The Oilers were unrelenting though. Dane Miller Jr., Randy Culpepper and Bashir Ahmed hit some big shots down the stretch to ensure the game remained a contest.

Miller Jr. tapped in to tie the game at 77-77 with 2:03 minutes left and momentarily silence the partisan crowd but it didn’t take long for Ehab Amin to sink a three-pointer and nail a free throw to get the hosts back in the lead.

At 81-79, Ahly looked home and dry, but with 12 seconds left on the clock, Culpepper’s lay-up, which was followed by a free-throw, handed City Oilers the advantage and sent Al Ahly into a timeout.

The Ugandan side held on for a massive win to improve to 1-3 and maintain hopes of qualifying. 

Culpepper Sr. ended the game with 20 points, while Miller Jr. contributed 14. 

Up next for City Oilers is another must-win clash with Central African Republic’s Bangui SC on Friday before ending their stay in Cairo against Libya’s Al Ahly Benghazi on Saturday. 

Al Ahly SC, who are now 7-2 at home, will be looking to bounce back when they face Al Ahly Ly on Friday.