19 December, 2022
23 May, 2023
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Kuwait Club bent on carrying out mission even as target on the back becomes bigger than ever

BEIRUT (Lebanon) - Cady Lalanne and Kuwait have their sights locked on one thing and one thing only: conquering the West Asia Super League (WASL).

But they're very much aware that doing so isn't as easy as it seems.

The path to success is never a straight line, as they say, although it would be much more difficult for this team given their stature in the league.

"We're undefeated, so every team wants to be the first team to beat us and knock us out," offered the seasoned big man.

Kuwait Club last Tuesday completed the Gulf Final picture by sweeping Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai in the Semis, making their way into the title bout unscathed.

To this day, they are the only team in the entire league with an immaculate win-loss record, which all began with a dominant 6-0 sweep of Group B to eventually become the very first to book a direct flight to the Semis.

Now the unbeaten streak has stretched to eight, with their last two wins coming at the expense of a squad that was highly expected to take the same route as theirs following a 4-0 start in Group A before fumbling against Kazma and Al Hilal.

So, making it this far left Lalanne and Co. beaming with pride, for they have been able to check one off their to-do list entering the season -- with a bonus. Reaching the Gulf Final has also booked the team a spot in the WASL Final 8 in June.

"Getting to the Finals and trying to win the whole tournament is everybody's agenda. That's what we're really focused on," said the 31-year-old.

Championships really do matter to Kuwait Club.

For starters, they're the most successful club in the Kuwaiti Division 1 Basketball League, having won a total of seven titles. They've also struck gold in a few other competitions domestically, plus one Arab championship to boot.

Needless to say, they want more.

And becoming the first-ever WASL champions is next on the list.

"Hopefully, we win the whole thing," said Lalanne.

Then again, the entire crew of Coach Peter Schomers is cognizant of the fact that the target on their backs have gotten bigger than ever.

Lalanne couldn't have put it in a better way. Every team they're up against would want to be the first to serve them a cold L, and it doesn't help, too, that their foes in the Final are coming in with that exact same mentality -- with an extra push.

Manama were among those who absorbed stinging losses at the hands of Kuwait Club early in the season, including a harsh 106-78 beatdown during the Group Phase's penultimate week last March 13 that serves as their worst WASL loss yet.

That win was the Kuwaiti powerhouse's fifth of the season, in the process clinching the group's top seed that brought them straight to the Semis as well.

But a lot has changed with the Bahraini champions since then. Lamont Jones and the rest of comebacking mentor Linos Gavriel's charges have orchestrated a massive turnaround to emerge as another legitimate contender to win it all.

They could impose the biggest threat to Kuwait Club given their form in the ongoing Final Phase. After losing Game 1 of the Qualification to Semi-Finals versus Kazma, Manama have now won four straight on the way to the championship round.

Lalanne and his team may have had the early blueprint on how to stop their steamrolling opponents but he would rather focus on the things that they can control, which would be the way they play and carry themselves.

"I think we just have to stay confident, and underestimate no team, and come out and play our game," he said. "I think we should be good."