By Zakariya Muhammed
Zakho beat Duhok 86-81 in Kurdistan?s basketball Super Cup match, held at Akad's Sports Club?s indoor hall in the Kurdish capital of Erbil on Nov. 15. Several sports and government officials, along with fans from both teams, attended the match. The crowd was impressed with the high level of skill in the game between these rival teams, which have some of Iraq?s most skilled players.
Zakho finished the first period at 23-17 and second period at 19-16. The third period ended in Zakho's favor, again at 12-9. Duhok was close to finishing the third period in its favor, but Zakho returned with power, ending the fourth and fifth periods at 19-19 and 9-9. Although the last period favored Duhok at 10-5, Zakho won the cup because it scored more points in the game.
After the match Zakho coach Majid Naeema said, "I am really satisfied with my players performance. The match was not easy at all; both teams' performances were very close most of the match but a small difference in scores helped my players win the match and take the cup."
Matches between these two teams are always competitive as both are from Duhok. The teams have some of Iraq?s best players and most of the players are also on the Iraqi national team.
Naeema congratulated his team and considered the victory an historic achievement not only for the team but for the people of Zakho, who are known as basketball fans. "We trained hard and the players performed their duties in their daily training sessions and on the court with all their power. Hard work results in an excellent outcome; this is a rule. Of course, we worked hard and now we are enjoying the victory," Naeema said proudly.
Duhok player Rahman Ahmad attributed his team's loss to player fatigue. "I admit that we were not successful in carrying out our coach's plan for the match; it was probably because most of our players were tired. We will try to work harder and prepare better for future matches."
Duhok Sports Club basketball did well in 2011, winning both the Iraqi league and cup titles. Duhok made its way into Iraqi basketball history after winning the Iraqi Basketball Cup for the first time with a victory over Al Shurta in the final.
Duhok played the final match on April 16 at Al Shurta indoor hall in Baghdad, just 11 days after winning the Iraqi basketball league title for the third consecutive year.
Duhok won the Iraqi basketball league title in 2011 after showing a strong performance against Karkh, winning 82-52. The final match was held on April 5 at the Sports Education College Hall in Duhok. Duhok faced its consistent challenger, Karkh, from Baghdad, in the final for the second year in a row.
Duhok also won the Kurdistan league title in 2010 after earning 27 points, one point ahead of second-place Zakho. The Super Cup match is played every year between the Kurdistan title holder and the league?s runner-up.
Duhok was expected to add a fourth title in 2011 but Zakho, with less experience, excelled and took the Super Cup match.
Observers believe Duhok can still win more championships and get back on track if it has players hungry for titles. Unlike other Kurdish clubs in the past decade, Duhok has paid attention to basketball.
The club has a long history with the game, starting in 1972. It became a contender in 2009 when it won the Iraqi basketball premier league title for the first time. Duhok was also Iraqi champion in 2010 and 2011.