Azerbaijan storm to double gold

21 May 2017
Azerbaijan's Marshall Obrian Moses (L) vies with Qatar's players during the Azerbaijan vs Qatar gold medal 3x3 Basketball match at the Baku 2017.
Azerbaijan's Marshall Obrian Moses (C) compete during the Azerbaijan vs Qatar gold medal 3x3 Basketball match at the Baku 2017.

Azerbaijan boosted their hopes of finishing on top of the overall medal table at the Islamic Solidarity Games as they swept to men's and women's gold in the 3x3 basketball on Sunday.

Inspired by a number of foreign-born stars, the host nation saw off Qatar 13-9 in the men's final in Baku, having already brushed aside Mali 13-7 in the women's showpiece.

The two additional titles pushed Azerbaijan up to 73 golds in the overall medal table, six ahead of second-placed Turkey.

American-born Marshall Moses gave Azerbaijan the perfect start in the men's final with a quick two-pointer, although Abdulrahman Saad responded with a free throw for Qatar during a cagey opening to the game.

The host nation gave away rather too many cheap fouls early on, and Qatar briefly threatened to spoil the party at a packed-out Baku Basketball Arena as they moved into a 3-2 lead.

Moses got Azerbaijan back on level terms, though, before two superb two-pointers in quick succession from Amil Hamzayev put the hosts in the driving seat.

The Azeri trio of Moses, Hamzayev and Orhan Aydin Haciyeva kept the scoreline ticking over, with the latter sinking two more doubles to stretch their advantage to 12-3.

Qatar rallied in the latter stages, but there was only going to be one winner as it finished 13-9.

In the women's final, American-born Marcedes Walker was the star of the show as Azerbaijan eased to victory over Mali.

With Walker pulling all the strings, the hosts powered into a 5-0 lead, although Awa Keita did eventually get the Africans off the mark with a neat two-pointer.

The imposing Walker responded by grabbing the next three points for the Azeris and moving them into an 8-2 lead.

Mali were struggling to find chinks in the hosts' armour, and even if top scorer Aminata Diakite pulled one back, Azerbaijan never looked in danger of relinquishing their lead.

After another couple of quick-fire points from Walker, Alexandra Mollenhauer landed a double to make it 12-5.

Fittingly, the impressive Walker had the final word as the Azeri trio saw it out 13-7 to secure gold.

With the Solidarity Games drawing to a close in Baku on Monday, Azerbaijan are now in pole position to finish top of the overall medal table.

Turkey may have slipped off the pace in their battle with the hosts, but they didn't leave the Basketball Arena empty-handed, as they defeated Turkmenistan in both of the bronze-medal matches.

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