Road to Semis SWOT Preview: Win or go home as 8 teams vie for last 4 Semi-FInals tickets
BEIRUT (Lebanon) - It's win or go home now as eight teams will vie for the four remaining tickets to the highly-anticipated WASL Semi-Finals.
No ball club was able to sweep their way into the said round as the sides that held a 1-0 lead got foiled by their respective foes, sending all Qualification to Semis series to a deciding Game 3, all of which will be taking place this week.
And so, no less than a grind-out affair is expected in each bracket, with every team out to make sure that they march on and continue their own campaigns.
Action starts on Monday night over at the Gulf, with Manama hosting Kazma at the BBA Arena as they look to earn the right to face Al Hilal in the semis.
Out to forge a duel with the undefeated Kuwait Club, on the other hand, are Shabab Al Ahli-Dubai and Al Nasr Riyadh on Tuesday night at the former's own stomping grounds at the Sheikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Sports Hall.
West Asia play, meanwhile, starts on Wednesday night, with ZobAhan battling Al Naft at home at the Azadi Basketball Hall in Tehran. Closely monitoring that bout are Gorgan as they've been waiting for who will be their opponents.
Al Riyadi and Orthodox Amman, ultimately, lock horns the following night at the Saeb Salam Stadium in Beirut, with the winner set to fight Beirut Club.
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STRENGTHS: Game 2 was an indication that Kazma aren't invincible despite their major midseason revamp after Manama proved as much.
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Sure, Salah Mejri did get his usual numbers, but the Bahraini side's frontline led by Elijah Robinson, Travin Thibodeaux, and Mohammed Hamooda showed that they can hold a candle against the Afrobasket legend, leading to the series-tying win.
The wings did their part, too, against Shane Rector, whom they forced to commit 10 turnovers, now the most number of TOs in a WASL game -- indeed a record that the well-traveled cager, let alone any player, would want to have.
And the fact that Manama saved their season on the road should be enough reason for the crew to believe that they can get it done at home.
WEAKNESSES: Al Naft showed that they can finish games following a crucial Game 2 win against ZobAhan, but still needed a bit of luck to do so.
The Iraqi side didn't allow a repeat of Game 1 to take place -- where they lost hold of a 21-point lead -- thanks to Edgar Sosa, but there's no denying that playing consistent ball for the whole 40 minutes remains an issue.
Before walking away with the 90-82 victory, Al Naft almost blew a 30-point lead against West Asia's comeback kids, and so it would be intriguing to see if they have addressed as much entering their most important game.
OPPORTUNITIES: Shabab Al Ahli-Dubai became a one-man show in Game 2 and that ultimately led to their 67-68 defeat to Al Nasr Riyadh.
Nick Minnerath essentially strapped the team on his back with 31 points and 7 rebounds but as great as his effort was, the Emirati club became extremely predictable by going to him almost every trip down the floor.
So, it could be a key for KSA in completing the comeback: let Minnerath do all the work, and limit his other options by containing his teammates.
THREATS: Orthodox Amman may have found another major piece against Al Riyadi in Brandon Peterson after that impressive Game 2 outing.
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Although he's always been one of the Jordanian side's reliables together with Freddy Ibrahim and Darrin Dorsey, it wasn't until the said match where he'd turn in a WASL personal-best performance to help extend their season.
The veteran big man poured 34 points and 9 rebounds with 3 steals in their 105-95 win, making him one to watch out for in Game 3.