IOM 51-59 UAE
Gibraltar will play for the money against the Isle of Man after the latter were unable to beat the United Arab Emirates leaving them the big favorites. Gibraltar has no opportunity to fight for gold unless Switzerland and Malta produce some major surprises in their matches against the United Arab Emirates and IOM.
The second of the title contenders’ matches saw the Isle of Man face the United Arab Emirates on a crucial double-headed day.
The United Arab Emirates, supported by their victory against Gibraltar, are now classified favorites. The Isle of Man, ranked 23rd in the world rankings, was also considered one of the strongest teams entering the tournament. Their performances already showed that they were a force to be reckoned with.
An early start for IOM was quickly matched by the UAE, as they both stayed at the same level from the start. The United Arab Emirates took the lead at 4-3, but quickly saw the score stabilize at 4-4 in a tightly contested opening seven minutes.
For Gibraltar, watching the match closely, the hope was that IOM would secure a victory of this match, which would leave their clash with IOM as the crucial decision maker.
There was not much to give from both teams as they went to 5-5 then 6-6, then 7-7. IOM has just moved to 8-7. However, losing possession after two excellent interceptions, the UAE allowed the Isle of Man to find a way to build a small gap as they led 10-7.
The United Arab Emirates, using their size and strength on the pitch, narrowed the gap to 10-9. An interception in defense paving the way for the equalization of the score just three and a half minutes from the end of the first quarter.
IOM withdrew one guided by Ashley Hall only to see the UAE respond with an equalizer.
From start to finish it went to 12-12, then 13-13 as the seconds ticked by in the first quarter, with neither team wanting to give up an inch as they entered the last minute at 14. -14. The United Arab Emirates equalized at 15-15 with ten seconds remaining for the end of the first quarter.
It was the United Arab Emirates that sank in the first quarter of the second quarter, with IOM keeping pace with a quick response to bring the score to 16-16.
With both teams playing at a high pace, even the slightest mistake looked like it could play a crucial role.
IOM found a way to take a momentary lead, but the failed conversion on several occasions saw the UAE punish them by resuming the lead and taking an 18-20 lead five minutes into the second quarter. . It builds their confidence.
The UAE expats showed their quality by going forward 19-22 with swift handling and distribution to create space for their shooters. The fatigue from the previous day’s match against Gibraltar was not evident.
IOM kept up its momentum while waiting for its opportunity while staying at bay, although the UAE increased their lead to five at one point.
The strength and quality of the UAE in passing and movement helped them strengthen their lead as they entered the dying minutes of the quarter with the UAE 22-28 in the lead with three minutes to go.
Despite retaliating, IOM found itself even further back as the defensive pressure turned into sniping. At one end, refusing scoring chances. At the other end, they added to their tally as they finished at halftime at 24-34. Gibraltar’s hopes for an IOM victory began to fade as the UAE appeared stronger. The fast pace of the game between IOM and UAE was also likely to play a crucial role in today’s outcome with IOM facing Gibraltar next.
Coming out for the second half, IOM looked ready to try to strike back.
The United Arab Emirates added to the score first with an immediate response. Although they showed they were ready to line their bodies with a few dives to intercept IOM, IOM struggled to stop the UAE offensive. With five minutes into the third quarter, the United Arab Emirates maintained their ten-point lead.
IOM managed to convert their center pass to close the gap to 31-39 only to see an easy transition as the UAE added their 40th point.
Needing turnovers to close the gap, the Isle of Man struggled to close the gap.
IOM managed to close the gap, but not enough to shake the confidence of the UAE. Enough though to keep the final quarter open for a potential comeback.
At the end of the third quarter, IOM closed the gap to six points and finished 39-45 behind.
The match saw Nadine Pardo Zammitt referee again.
No change of players on either side at the start of the fourth quarter, the tone was set for a final battle. IOM risking trying to get a result in this game that would leave the doors open for them also fought for gold.
The Isle of Man produced a retort which saw them close to five points after just five minutes. Only to see their opponents come back to six points. This was repeated again in the next part.
A double chance to close the gap to four was wasted after a brilliant interception that saw the conversion flawed. The pressure on the IOM building as they remained behind at 48-53 with five minutes to go. Their opponents clung patiently knowing that they only had to keep their margins long enough.
The match went down to 50-55 with three and a half minutes remaining. IOM managed to narrow it down to just four points only to see a poor central pass decision see the UAE regain possession and bring it down to five. Another mistake leading to another point for the United Arab Emirates. Unforced errors mount as the United Arab Emirates increase their lead to 51-59 with a minute and a half of the game remaining.
The UAE kept their cool to march to victory with a 51-59 which places the UAE as favorites if they win their matches against Switzerland and Malta.
The Isle of Man will face Gibraltar in a match that should decide who wins the money.
The Isle of Man will face Switzerland again on Sunday.
Gibraltar Play on the Isle of Man tonight at 7:00 PM.