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June 2023
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FIBA WASL Final 8 2023 Final preview

DUBAI (United Arab Emirates) - Familiar foes are set to cross paths yet again as Kuwait Club and Manama square off for the FIBA West Asia Super League (WASL) crown.

Match is on Saturday at 18:45 local time at the Sheikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Sports Hall, with the protagonists of last month's WASL-Gulf Final vying for the league's biggest prize.

Kuwait Club, of course, are looking to repeat over their Bahraini counterparts, which they swept in the best-of-3 finale to emerge as the inaugural champion of the sub-zone  league.

They're coming into the winner-take-all affair with renewed spirits after downing WASL-West Asia champions Al Riyadi in the Final 8 Semis by way of a 95-85 decision, indeed a great way to pick themselves up after that shock loss to BC Astana just last Wednesday.

That loss snapped their unbeaten 12-game streak in WASL. But that hardly mattered for the wards of Coach Peter Schomers, since they were already qualified for the Semis even before that duel after beating both Shahrdary Gorgan and Shabab Al Ahli-Dubai in their group prior.

Plus, they've accomplished one of their goals by reaching the Big Dance, with Marcus Georges-Hunt leading the way in the Semis by firing 32 big points to help boot out the Lebanese side.

But it's not just him who's made this run possible, for others such as Cady Lalanne, the Hasan Bros., and Turki Alshemmari, to name some, have been delivering nicely too.

Favorites are Kuwait Club heading into the bout since they have the mental edge over Manama but that doesn't make the former less worried, as they're wary of how much their opponents have improved especially on defense with the way they boosted their ceiling.

While the Kuwaiti D1 champions' only addition to the squad was former NBA cager Thon Maker, Manama brought in another NBA and Europe vet Jeremy Evans and Sir'Dom Pointer, who were signed up after the team parted ways with Elijah Robinson and Lamont Jones.

So far, the two have made strides despite the limited amount of time they've had with the team. After losing to Al Riyadi in their Final 8 opener last Saturday, both big men helped bring the club to the Semi-Finals by beating Beirut Club in the last day of the Group Phase just last Wednesday.

Part of their improved jelling, of course, are the support of the locals both on and off the court, led by Mosti Rashed, Ahmed Haji, Hasan Nowrooz, and Mohammed Hamooda.

So, it would be interesting to see how both teams would fare against one another this time, with WASL's crown jewel - and a place in the league's young history as its inaugural winners - up for grabs.

Meanwhile, locking horns in the Third-Place Game set at 16:00 local time are Riyadi and Astana.