19 December, 2022
25 May, 2023
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Clash of the WASL West Asia (Point) Gods

BEIRUT (Lebanon) - The Final Phase of WASL West Asia has commenced and even though we haven’t even gone past the Qualification to the Semi-Finals, the intensity is already at a high level.

That’s what you get when you put highly competitive teams, as well as highly competitive players, in the same arena. And while there are stars loaded at every position on each team in WASL West Asia (we see you Ali Haidar and Arsalan Kazemi, among many others), the talent does seem a bit crowded in the guard position.

Not only are these stars of their clubs here in WASL, they were also recently the floor generals of their teams in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers and FIBA Asia Cup 2022. Between Wael Arakji (Lebanon/Al Riyadi) to Behnam Yakhchali (Iran/Gorgan), Sajjad Mashayekhi (Iran/ZobAhan), and Freddy Ibrahim (Jordan/Orthodox Amman), the level of guard play has been at a sky-high level.

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How have these star guards fared in WASL West Asia?


Behnam Yakhchali Sajjad Mashayekhi Freddy Ibrahim Wael Arakji

Wael Arakji

Al Riyadi - Lebanon

WASL Stats
MPG 31.9 PPG 17.8
FG% 50.0% RPG 3.5
3P% 26.9% APG 3.7
FT% 74.1% TOPG 3.0
EF 15.5 SPG 1.2

The reigning Asia Cup MVP has set a standard for his expected level of play that what he’s been doing in WASL West Asia feels a bit “underwhelming” while most players would like to be able to walk into each game and produce at Arakji’s level.

However, it can also be said that the 28-year-old guard has not yet had his signature WASL game just yet. But as we’ve seen from Arakji in the past, his game seems to elevate as the stakes get higher so keep an eye on him in the upcoming games where the team’s fate is going to be on the line nearly every single possession.

Best game (so far)

27 points, 10-16 field-goal shooting, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 30 EF
vs Gorgan (21 December 2022)

In a WASL debut against a strong Gorgan team at home, Arakji did what he does best and took over when it mattered the most.

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Behnam Yakhchali

Gorgan - Iran

WASL Stats
MPG 37.6 PPG 21.3
FG% 49.2% RPG 5.8
3P% 40.0% APG 2.8
FT% 84.6% TOPG 1.5
EF 22.5 SPG 2.3

Yakhchali is the gold standard of efficiency guard play in Asia. He carefully selects his shots, makes them at a high rate, and rarely turns the ball over. In WASL, not only is the 27-year-old close to shooting 50-40-85, he is just shy of a 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio.

The sharpshooting guard is also co-leading WASL West Asia in three-point attempts with Edgar Sosa (10.0 per game), which is a problem for his opponents when he is making almost 40 percent of those three-pointers.

Because of their immaculate form during the Group Phase, Gorgan and Yakhchali have been away from WASL action over these past two weeks as they await for their Semi-Finals opponents to advance.

Best game (so far)

29 points, 6-12 three-point field-goal shooting, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 32 EF
vs Al Naft (22 March 2023)

Yakhchali might personally be hoping that Al Naft takes Game 3 against ZobAhan, as he seems to play well against the Iraqi club.

In both of their previous encounters, Yakhchali averaged 25.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.0 steals, and 31.0 EFF while shooting 51.5 percent from the field, 43.5 percent from the three-point line, and 7-8 from the charity stripe.

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Freddy Ibrahim

Orthodox Amman - Jordan

WASL Stats
MPG 36.5 PPG 17.5
FG% 39.2% RPG 3.8
3P% 27.7% APG 7.8
FT% 66.7% TOPG 6.0
EF 14.7 SPG 2.5

Freddy Ibrahim is one of the most exciting guards to watch in WASL. When he gets into his flow, when he gets into a rhythm, he’s one of the most entertaining players whether it is his dime-dropping, shot-creating, or just purely working his way around the defense.

In particular, fans are drawn to his playmaking as he leads WASL in assists, just as he did when he led all players across all regions of the World Cup Qualifiers.

The 26-year-old might have an off-night, but when everything is clicking, he is a force to be reckoned with. But anyone who watch Jordan’s run to the Asia Cup 2022 Semi-Finals already knew that, right?

Best game (so far)

26 points, 9-17 field-goal shooting, 8 rebounds, 12 assists, 6 steals, 40 EF
vs Al Riyadi (6 April 2023)

The highest EF recorded in WASL so far by anyone not named Brandon Peterson (who recorded 42 in the same game) goes to Freddy Ibrahim. This was the best example of what the 1.90M (6’3”) can do at his best, coming at a perfect time in a must-win game.

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Sajjad Mashayekhi

ZobAhan - Iran

WASL Stats 
MPG 33.4 PPG 20.2
FG% 51.9% RPG 3.8
3P% 20.0 APG 6.6
FT% 70.0% TOPG 2.2
EF 22.0 SPG 2.4

Mashayekhi is not the biggest name, not even on his own team in his club (hi, Arsalan) and on the national team, let alone among WASL guards, but don’t let that make you overlook him as one of the best operating in the competition.

Consistency is the name of the 29-year-old’s game. Among the players in this list, Mashayekhi is the only one to have not registered a game with a single-digit EF and has actually not recorded an EF lower than 16. He’s scored at least 14 points in every game and has not shot lower than 47.4 percent in a game. His assist-to-turnover ratio is at a rock solid 3.0, among one of the best in WASL.

So while Mashayekhi might not be a headlining name, he gets things done at a high level of quality.

Best game (so far)

29 points, 9-19 field-goal shooting, 3 made three-point shots, 5 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals, 25 EF
vs Al Naft (29 March 2023)

The numbers are a bit inflated as this was an overtime game, but his impact was undeniable. When Mashayekhi makes threes as he did against Al Naft in Game 1, teams will have a tough time beating ZobAhan.

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Who is your favorite WASL West Asia guard?