CAIRO -- Despite Zaire Wade's impressive 17 points as his father, Dwyane Wade, cheered him on in Cairo, the Cape Town Tigers lost 82-76 to Ferroviário da Beira in the Basketball Africa League on Wednesday night, leaving them at risk of not advancing.
The Tigers have now lost three out of four games at the Nile Conference in Cairo, and if they don't finish in the top four of six teams, they will not make the playoffs and finals in Kigali, Rwanda, at the end of the month.
From the tip-off, it was evident that both teams understood the magnitude of the assignment in front of the elder Wade, who was in full 'dad coaching from the sidelines' mode, and wife Gabrielle Union, and it was a tightly contested first half.
Evans Ganapamo and Mike Gbinije kept the Tigers within touching distance and they eventually went into half-time level at 39-39.
Zaire Wade lit up in the third quarter, controlling the tempo of the play and showing moments of sublime skill that had been few and far between in his tentative opening games. The Tigers led 65-56 by the end of the quarter.
Beira, however, fought back and regained the lead with approximately 1:24 to go in the fourth quarter before a vital bucket from Ismael Nurmamade stretched it to three points. Beira led 78-75 at this point. They managed to close out the win and came out 82-76 victors with Najeal Young scoring 26, Nurmamade 20 and Bourama Sidibe 19.
"It's always great playing in front of my family. It shows real family support. There's a lot of talk on the outside, but you can see we're a village - we've got each other. It just goes to show how far he'll go to watch me chase my dreams," 21-year-old Wade said after the game.
However, the equation is simple for the Tigers heading into their final group game against City Oilers: win or go home empty-handed. Beira, meanwhile, have some breathing space after claiming their second win.
Commenting on the win, Beira's Will Perry said: "We're pretty even teams in terms of talent across the board. Today, we just kind of gritted it out in the end. In the first half, we turned the ball over a lot. In the second half, we were doing the same thing until the last five or six minutes or so when we made a comeback. I think the difference was just those last five or six minutes."
In the earlier game, SLAC went tit-for-tat with Petro de Luanda, who remain unbeaten in their quest for a first BAL title after finishing runners up last year, taking the game 95-78.
The Angolan champions took an early 22-20 lead but pulled clear in the second quarter, with Damian Hollis and Carlos Morais in fine form as they took a 56-41 advantage into the half-time break.
Despite Dane Miller's best efforts for SLAC, Petro continued to pull clear in the third quarter and increased their advantage to 79-58.
Ultimately, the difference between the teams was that Petro once again spread the scoring magnificently, with 12 different players getting a slice of the pie, while Miller and Emeka Nwabuzor did the heavy lifting for the Guinean side.
"Once I was inside [Petro], I realised the extra pass factor. They got me out here averaging four our five assists as a big man... It's that extra pass factor. [Petro's mindset says] 'He has a better shot - I'll give him the ball,'" Ater Majok said in the press conference, explaining how they spread the scoring so well.