8 reasons to be excited for the WASL Final 8 2023
BEIRUT (Lebanon) - The West Asia Super League (WASL) Final 8 is indeed getting closer and closer.
The tournament is just a few days away, and there's no denying the anticipation for the inaugural competition taking place in Dubai.
Definitely, the fact alone that this will be the first-ever staging of WASL's pinnacle event is making fans in the region excited. But, we guarantee you that there are plenty more reasons to look forward to in the 9-17 June festivities. Yes. Plenty more.
So, we offer you this crash course on some of the things that we can all wait for.
First of many, surely
The first time is always special, as they say, and the same goes with the Final 8's maiden rodeo. And we're certain that this will be the beginning of a new era of club competition in the region, where the game is revered.
The WASL sub-zone leagues yielded some of the best performances individually and collectively they've had their own places in the league's history books.
Edgar Sosa, for instance, holds the WASL record for most points in a single game with 46, which he set against Al Riyadi just last 9 March. Then there's Arsalan Kazemi, the only player to date to haul down 20 rebounds in a WASL game.
Among teams, meanwhile, Al Riyadi scored the most points in a game when they beat Gorgan, 114-100, last 17 May to become the inaugural WASL-West Asia champions.
Will those records - and the others - get broken in the Final 8? That's an interesting question, no doubt, given that the best of the best will be duking it out.
Will the streak end this time?
Kuwait Club are the only team coming into the Final 8 with a perfect record. For starters, they swept their way to the WASL-Gulf title with a 10-0 record overall.
As star big man Cady Lalanne put it, every team would want to beat them given their stature. It won't be any different in the nearing competition, surely.
Who could do that? It's tough to answer at this point.
The newly-minted Kuwaiti Premier League champs, though, will be facing tough foes early as they're pooled with Kazakhstan's elite BC Astana, WASL-West Asia runners-up Shahrdary Gorgan, and a familiar opponent in Shabab Al Ahli-Dubai in Group B.
It should be fun. We're sure of that, at least.
Young Boomers in West Asia
Two young Australia Boomers will be seeing action in the Final 8.
As fans have already watched Duop Reath help Al Riyadi greatly, Thon Maker will be showcasing his wares this time as he will be reinforcing Kuwait Club.
Reath was part of the Boomers team that won the bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics while Maker helped his batch claim the gold in the FIBA Asia Cup 2022, and the two will certainly be bringing their elite play in the upcoming meet.
Imagine a Final featuring the two.
As early as the Group Phase, old foes will be crossing paths yet again.
Group A, for one, will see Al Riyadi take on domestic rivals Beirut Club, which they beat in the WASL-West Asia Semi-Finals to eventually win the crown.
Meanwhile, Shabab Al Ahli and BC Astana of Group B will be taking on one another six years after squaring off in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2017 Quarter-Finals, with the former out to get back against the team that booted them out of contention.
The possibility of the Gulf and West Asia finalists locking horns anew in the Final Phase, at least in the Semis, isn't far-fetched. Maybe, we could see Al Riyadi facing Gorgan again, or Kuwait Club versus Manama for another go-around.
Stars: Who will shine the brightest?
The Final 8 will be the battle among the best of the best. Not just among champion teams, but the brightest of stars set to compete.
From reigning Asia Cup MVP Wael Arakji, to the Behnam Yakhchali-Mohammad Jamshidi tandem, to Ali Haidar, to Lamont 'Momo' Jones, to name some, there should be no shortage of star power gracing the inaugurals.
WASL trophy: West Asia basketball's next crown jewel
The WASL trophy - as far as we can reveal - is a thing of beauty, one that all ball clubs in the region would aspire to go after and add to their collection.
First-ever WASL champions
By the end of the tournament, the inaugural Final 8 champions will be crowned. Who could it be? That's what each and every fan have been wondering.
All participating teams have their own strong cases of bringing home the biggest prize. But then, what really matters is if they could all prove as much on the court.