Play-Off switch on: A look-back at the WASL Final Phase opener's best winning acts
BEIRUT (Lebanon) - It would be interesting to see if teams that have gained a head start in the WASL Qualification to Semi-Finals could get the job done and sweep their way into the next phase as action continues this week.
Four clubs, namely Kazma and Shabab Al Ahli-Dubai of the Gulf League along with West Asia sides Gorgan and Al Riyadi, all have the opportunity to finish it off and formalize their entry into the semis that starts mid-April,
But before taking a look far ahead, it would be nice to take a peek back at some of the best showings last week that helped the aforementioned get 1-0 leads.
Playoff basketball is a different animal, as others say, and Amir Gholizadeh showed that he isn't one to shy away from performing in the big stage.
The lengthy 23-year-old forward fired a season-high 31 points on 7 3-pointers -- second-most in WASL-West Asia -- to help steer ZobAhan to a 109-102 overtime victory that saw the crew come back from a deep 21-point deficit.
Gholizadeh nearly matched his Group Phase total (33 points) in a rousing showing that also saw him shoot 55-percent from the floor and collect 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals, proving that he can also be one of WASL's best.
He has spent barely two weeks with Al Riyadi yet Kevin Murphy has fit right in, as evidenced by his outstanding play in their Game 1 win over Orthodox Amman.
The well-traveled winger poured 27 points, including 11 in the third quarter alone, on top of 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 5 steals -- equaling the most in a game in WASL-West Asia -- to help his new team buck a slow start and post the 102-83 rout.
Murphy no longer needed time to adjust in the WASL stage, for he's been here before -- the 33-year-old played for Gulf team Kazma early in the season, making him the only player to have played in both WASL leagues in one season,
Qais Omar Alshabebi
Shabab Al Ahli-Dubai
Qais Omar Alshabebi sure knows how to turn the switch on as he played his best game to date to banner Shabab Al Ahli-Dubai's return to their winning ways.
After scoring just 4 in their final Group Phase game versus Al Hilal, the veteran center showed that he can still be relied on when the stakes are high, dropping season-highs of 24 points and 14 rebounds in their 100-91 Game 1 win over Al Nasr Riyadh.
It was his first double-double outing since having 20 and 13 in a dominant 92-61 win over Al Bashaer in Dubai last January 17. But more importantly, Alshabebi's efforts helped the Emirati ball club halt their two-game losing skid.
Much of the attention has been on Salah Mejri and Shane Rector, but Latavious Williams showed in the QSF opener that Kazma are more than the new recruits.
The Kuwaiti side took down Al Manama on the road by way of an 83-69 decision and the 34-year-old bruiser played a big role in it. He finished with 18 points, 10 of which he made in the final period to help put the game out of reach.
Williams also tallied 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season, along with a game-high 5 steals for an efficiency rating of 24 -- he has netted 20 EFF or more for six games, including their triumph over the Bahraini club.