24 - 29
September 2019
FIBA Asia Champions Cup Semi-finals stage is set with high stakes on the line
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FIBA Asia Champions Cup Semi-finals stage is set with high stakes on the line

BANGKOK (Thailand) - The Semi-finals stage is set for the FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2019 in Thailand. Naft Abadan will be facing 2018 finalists Alvark Tokyo while Muharraq plays 2-time champions Al Riyadi for the two tickets to the championship game.

Naft Abadan vs Alvark Tokyo

15:30 (GMT +7)

Naft Abadan have boasted one of the strongest squads at the Asia Champions Cup so far, heading into the Semi-finals with a 3-game winning streak. Though they are scoring the second least points on average at 74.7 per game, their defense has been the best in the competition. The Iranian champions have allowed only 64.0 points per game, effectively using their collective size and strength to their advantage.

Abadan’s trio of World Cup participants have been rock solid as expected. Samad Nikkah Bahrami is leading the entire tournament in assists with 5.7 assists per game while also putting up an efficient 14.3 points per contest. The powers in the paint for Abadan are Hamed Haddadi, who is averaging a double-double of 13.0 points and 11.7 rebounds per game, and Mohammad Hassanzadeh, who leads the team in scoring with 15.3 points per game to go with 5.7 boards per game.

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Samad drops 1️⃣9️⃣ points on his #FIBAAsiaCC return 🔥 @palayesh_naftabadan_club

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Alvark Tokyo will be looking to deal Abadan their first defeat at the FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2019 with a little bit of added motivation. The B.League champions lost to another Iranian champion last year in the title game which feature Arsalan Kazemi who is back again this year with Abadan.

“I think the Iranian champions are most component team and we will try to rise to the occasion and be competitive in that game,” Coach Luka Pavicevic said.

Alvark advanced to the Semi-finals as the second-placed team of their group with one loss. Even with that lone defeat, Alvark are no less dangerous than they were last year. The Japanese champions have the second best point differential in the competition and their only loss came on a buzzer-beater by Wael Arakji.

Coach Pavicevic prides on the fact that his team’s strength is defense and they have allowed only 74.3 points per game so far in this competition.

Other than their defense, Alvark is also relying on their balanced attack which has 7 players averaging at least 7 points per game. Newcomer and off-season addition Yutaroh Suda has provided the punch that Alvark were hoping for with 10.7 points per game on 66.7 percemnt shooting. Still, it’s 2018 All-Star Five member Alex Kirk who has been leading the way with 20.7 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.

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@kingkirk53 with the AO#DUNK 👊💥

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Abadan will be the 7th Iranian team to make it to the Asia Champions Cup finals in the last 12 years if they win, obviously the most by any nation in the same span. Alvark Tokyo are looking to make a second straight trip to the championship game, targeting a win in the final game this time should they proceed.

Al Riyadi vs Muharraq

15:30 (GMT +7)

After a disappointing run at the Asia Champions Cup 2018, Al Riyadi are making it up grandly with their performance this year. They have remained undefeated throughout the Group Phase, winning each of their games dramatically by no more than 4 points.

Riyadi claimed their first two important wins by two points in each contest, thanks to their superstar guard Wael Arakji. He currently leads the tournament in scoring at 29.5 points per game, including the highest single-game scoring performance so far of 38 points against Hyundai Mobis. More than the gaudy scoring numbers has been his clutch shots, already locking down 2 game-winning shots in two games.

“This is what champions are made of. If you are mentally weak, you can’t play this game,” Riyadi captain Jean Abd El Nour said of the team’s mentality.

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THE GAME WINNER. . @waelarakji @alriyadiclub #FIBAAsiaCC

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Riyadi will be facing Muharraq, who are looking to claim the best standing at the Asia Champions Cup by a Bahraini champion. They started the competition with a 21-point loss to Abadan, but bounced back with two straight wins to make it to the Semi-finals. Muharraq were able to claim their trip to the final 4 with an inspiring win over the Fubon Braves, sealed with a clutch three by Ahmed Alderazi and a clutch block by Mike Harris.

Muharraq heads into the Final Phase with the with the tournament leader in points scorer, Kevin Murphy, who has racked up 88 points so far. The 29-year-old forward is also averaging 11.0 rebounds per game in a whopping 38.4 minutes per game played.

“It’s the semifinals so it’s playoffs basketball,” Kevin Murphy said. “It’s win or go home, so I feel like [Riyadi] is going to play their best so we’re going to have to bring our best.”

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😤 Murphy drops 3️⃣3️⃣pts. & 1️⃣1️⃣reb. for @muharraqclub 👊

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Riyadi have already won 2 Asia Champions Cup titles and are aiming for to tie their rivals, Sagesse, for most ever in competition history. Muharraq are also looking to make history if they make their way to the championship game. The highest ever finish by a club from Bahrain was in 1999 by Al Manama, who finished in 3rd place.