RADES — Algeria had a slow start in their AfroBasket 2015 opener against tournament debutants Zimbabwe on Thursday, but managed to secure an 87-67 victory.
Both Mounir Benzegala and Mohamed Harat ensured that a rowdy section of supporting fans would not go home disappointed as they displayed a succession of electrifying plays.
Harat finished with 21 points, while point guard Benzegala came up with four three-pointers to go with 16 points.
Vitalis Chikoko and Tatenda Maturere sparked Zimbabwe with 14 points apiece, but they were unable to capitalise on what at one stage was a nine-point lead as the North Africans took over.
Turning Point: Hocine Gaham and Samir Mekdad had one three-pointer apiece, giving Algeria a decisive 32-29 in the second as they never trailed again.
Stats Don’t Lie: Five assists in 40 minutes for Zimbabwe translates into a lack of ball movement and as a result they paid the price for forcing individual plays.
Game Hero: Benzagala really was the game-changer for Algeria, not only because of his 16 points, but also his game-high 6 assists.
The Bottom Line: Algeria secured a win that could be highly important moving forward in the Group D, which included Cape Verde and Cote d’Ivoire.
As for Zimbabwe, it was a reasonable performance for a debutant team standards, but in fairness coach Ellery Pinkerton’s side will need to step up a little bit more if they aspire to more forward in the competition.
They play their second match against Cote D’ivoire this afternoon. — online