With their playoff hopes fading fast, the Brandon University Bobcats men’s basketball team was dealt another major blow on the weekend.
Already playing without last season’s scoring leader Emerick Ravier, the Bobcats lost this year’s scoring and rebounding leader Ali-Mounir Benabdelhak for the rest of the season after suffering a fractured clavicle in Friday night’s game in Vancouver versus the UBC Thunderbirds.
Benabdelhak was averaging a team-leading 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game for the Bobcats, who slipped to 3-11 on the season after falling to UBC and Victoria on the road. The loss of the 6-foot-6 second-year forward from Montreal leaves a gaping hole in the lineup.
"It’s huge," Bobcats head coach Gil Cheung said. "He’s definitely been our most consistent player on both ends of the court. He’s our leading scorer, leading rebounder ... and he can play multiple positions for us. He’s a big wing or he’s a small forward for us, so he definitely created a mismatch.
"We’ve been struggling to score all year and he has been our biggest threat, so yeah, it’s definitely going to hurt."
Benabdelhak was hurt late in Friday night’s game when the Bobcats had battled back to tie the Thunderbirds — the No.2-ranked team in the country — with about four and a half minutes left to play before UBC pulled away after Benabdelhak’s injury for a 90-75 victory.
"Ali went up for a rebound and he was kind of tangled up, but he still went up with one arm and kind of got undercut at the same time ... so when he landed he couldn’t protected himself and his arm and shoulder got jammed," Cheung said.
Benabdelhak was helped off the court, with X-Rays on Saturday morning confirming the injury. Benabdelhak joins Ravier — who averaged 16.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season — on the injured list, with Ravier recently electing to sit out the entire 2012-13 season as he continues to recover from major reconstructive knee surgery. With 6-foot-7 American import Isaiah James still playing limited minutes due to an off-season ankle injury, the Bobcats’ lineup has taken a huge hit.
"That’s three guys that we expect to play big minutes who haven’t played all year or have played limited minutes or are done (for the year)," said Cheung, whose team will host the Saskatchewan Huskies this Friday and Saturday at BU’s new Healthy Living Centre.