SAUDI Arabia survived a late flurry from Syria to take a 79-77 overtime victory in the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers Saturday at Prince Hamza Hall in Amman.
Khalid Abdel Gabar uncorked 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field, to go with six rebounds and four assists to boost Saudi Arabia's chances of clinching a spot in the continental tilt.
The win allowed it to rise to a 3-2 record to move up to second place in Group E.
But the win almost fell out of Saudi Arabia's grips as it allowed Syria to repeatedly rally back in the game.
Nassir Abo Jalas buried the go-ahead three with 1:04 left in the game to make it a 78-76 lead, but Mohammed Almarwani kept a glimmer of hope for the opposition as he split his charities with 12 ticks left to put Saudi Arabia up, 79-76.
Amer Alsati split his freebies with five seconds left for Syria, while Jaber Nasser Kabe tried to run out the clock with a three. His miss, however, was grabbed by Doug Herring who still had a chance for a hail-mary but missed his prayer at the buzzer as Saudi Arabia escaped with the win.
It mirrored the tense finish to the fourth period where the Syrians fought back from an eight-point deficit, 68-60, in the final 4:21 and even forced a 69-all deadlock courtesy of Anas Shaban's trey with 50 seconds left.
After a couple of misses from both teams, Herring had one last shot to steal the game, but he missed the game-winning three as the buzzer sounded and the game went to overtime.
Mathna Almarwani made only one of his 12 triples to notch 15 points, nine boards, and five assists, Mohammed Almarwani added 14 points and seven rebounds, and Mohammed Alsuwailem came off the bench and dropped a solid double-double with his 13 points, 13 rebounds, and five blocks for Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi close out their assignment on Monday against group leader Iran, hopeful that the Syrians lose to Qatar to earn the top two berth.
Herring fired 22 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two steals in his debut as Syria's naturalized player.
Alsati chipped in 16 points and nine boards, while Anthouny Bakar had 13 points, five rebounds, and two assists in the loss.
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