The only way for Zamalek to beat Ferroviario de Maputo in their BAL Group C clash on Monday at the Kigali Arena was to be aggressive in the paint, where they out-lasted the Mozambicans 71-55.
Two-time NCAA champion with the University of Florida Walter Hodge, one of the two Zamalek players to score in double digits, finished with a team-high 17 points; Michael Fakuade added 11 points off the bench to help the Egyptians start their Basketball Africa League (BAL) with a win.
The Egyptians were careless with the ball for most of the game, turning the ball over 28 times, yet they still got away with it.
"Our approach to this game wasn't the right one, hopefully, we'll do a better job in our next game," Zamalek Head Coach Agustin Julbe said in a post-game press conference.
Ferroviario had its own struggles as well as well, which prevented it from taking advantage of Zamalek's errors.
Spaniard Alvaro Masa was a one-man show for Ferroviario finishing with a game-high 24 points; Demarcus Holland added 13 points but it wasn't meant to be for the Mozambican champions.
Trailing by 11 in the second quarter, 19-year-old Ahmed Yasser and Michael Fakuade buried one three-pointer each to propel the Egyptians to a 34-33 halftime lead.
"As one of the youngest players in this tournament to be given a chance to contribute to my team is a dream come true. I'll always be ready whenever the coach needs me," said Yasser, who scored eight points and grabbed three rebounds for the Egyptians.
"This win today was the result of our hard work throughout the season. This win means nothing for now, but I can tell that we are focused to win this championship," insisted a confident Yasser.
Ferroviario paid the price for their lack of rotation as Zamalek's bench outscored Ferroviàrio 33-9.
"We haven't played competitive basketball in a long time due to the pandemic. This was our first game, and we hope to better against AS Douanes and GSP," said Ferroviario Captain Custodio Muchate.
Ferroviaro seem prepared to stun a more experienced Zamalek team earlier in the game but allowing a 22-13 run in the last ten minutes didn't help.
"We have to be able to play all four quarters," Muchate stressed.
Ferroviario finished with just seven assists, compared to Zamalek's 16, and relying on Masa and Holland, who combined for 37 Ferroviario points proved costly for a team that reached the BAL on the back of 8-2 mark in the Qualifiers.
Both Ferroviario and Zamalek resume their BAL campaign on Wednesday, May 19th, when they face AS Douanes and GSP, respectively.
AS Douanes extend their lead after huge block
AS Douanes show some excellent defense before moving rapidly forward to score in their 94-76 win vs. GSP.
Senegal's AS Douanes get the better of Algeria's GSP
Meanwhile, a dominant fourth quarter performance paved the way for AS Douanes' 94-76 win over Algerian champions GS Petroliers in the opener of Group C.
The Algerians took the lead early in the game, but AS Douanes regrouped in time to mark their return to a continental competition in 17 years.
Mamadou Faye sparked AS Douanes' offence with two straight three-pointers off the bench to give his team a determinant 18-12 lead - their biggest in the first ten minutes - and they never trailed again.
When GSP head coach Sofiane Boulahia called Mohamed Harat off the bench, he was the Algerians' heart and soul, finishing with a game-high 28 points, of which only four during the decisive fourth quarter when GSP seemed to have run out of gas.
With eight points in the opening five minutes, GSP Abdellah Hamdini seemed to be the man to-go-to but keeping him scoreless for the remaining of the game proved vital for AS Douanes.
And, turning the ball over 22 times - twice as many as AS Douanes - limited GSP's chances to secure their first BAL win.
Faye was four for seven from beyond the arc to finish with 15 points; Mamadou Diop added a team-high 18 points to help AS Douanes expose GSP's inconsistency.