Fearsome Five and more Lineup Analysis in the middle of the WASL Finals
BEIRUT (Lebanon) - The Finals of both WASL Gulf and WASL West Asia have begun.
Throughout the past 6 months, we’ve learned about the teams that are on the final stage from Kuwait Club and Manama in WASL Gulf to Gorgan and Al Riyadi in WASL West Asia. We’ve seen who has emerged as the stars these teams lean on in crucial situations. We’ve witnessed them go through transformations whether it is a roster change or even coaching changes.
Now that we’re in the middle of the Finals, another key component to consider is how well each set of five players on the court plays with each other. Some teams found their favorite lineups early while some have had to experiment a bit more.
Here are some key observations from the line-up analyses of each Finals team so far this season!
Disclaimer: The line-up analyses do not include data points from the following games:
- Al Sadd vs Kuwait Club - 24 January 2023
- Al Naft vs Gorgan - 22 March 2023
- Al Riyadi vs Orthodox Amman - 30 March 2023
At this point, it seems that each team has made it clear who their “Go-to Five” are.
Most used lineups (total minutes) for WASL Gulf Finals teams before the Finals
|Team||Lineup||Total Minutes||Games||Minutes per game|
Undefeated Kuwait Club ran with a lineup of Hamad Hasan, Turki Alshemmari, Mohamad Hasan, Cady Lalanne, and Marcus Georges-Hunt for a total of 45.2 minutes across 6 games prior to the Finals. The lineup doesn’t feature the length and size of players like Omar Jawhar or Mustafa Matwali as well as the scoring prowess of Jacob Pullen, but this is a solid all-around unit at all positions.
We will discuss this lineup, in particular, a bit later.
It took some time for Manama to get the right mix, but now that they have, they are sticking with it.
The lineup of Lamont "Momo" Jones, Ahmed Haji, Mohammed Hamooda, Hasan Mohamed, and Travin Thibodeaux is by far their most frequently used line-up at 61.0 minutes in total before the start of the Final series. This clocks in at 12.2 minutes per game across 5 games. The lineup scored well with 139 points for Manama (2.3 points per minute), but was a concern is it also allowed 124 points (2.0 points allowed per minute). Still, it’s got the job done so far to get them here to the Finals.
Most used lineups (total minutes) for WASL West Asia Finals teams before the Finals
|Team||Lineup||Total Minutes||Games||Minutes per game|
Prior to Game 1 of the Finals, Gorgan had not lost since the season-opening game and had not made any roster changes.
Throughout this season, they locked in on their traditional lineup of Behnam Yakhchali, Mohammad Jamshidi, Sajjad Pazrofteh, Perry Petty, and Antanas Udras who played 61.3 minutes together (15.3 minutes per game). They are a good enough scoring squad (2.0 points per minute), but the strong suit of this quintet is their defense (1.8 points allowed per minute).
Al Riyadi have had to scramble and find their comfort zone a bit with late changes, but they have found their footing with Karim Zeinoun, Wael Arakji, Hayk Gyokchyan, Duop Reath, and Kevin Murphy. This lineup has only been featured in two games before the Finals, but it was already the most frequently used squad for Al Riyadi in total (31.9 minutes) and on average (15.9 minutes per game).
With the likes of Arakji and Murphy, it is no surprise that they can flat out score (2.6 points per minute), though as you can expect for a group that did not have too much time with each other, there was still room for improvement on defense (2.1 points allowed per minute).
Go-to Five Finals changes
After Game 1 of the Finals in both leagues, those frequent lineups still remain among the most used with some twists and turns.
Most used lineups (total minutes) for WASL Gulf Finals teams in Game 1
Kuwait Club's lineup of Hamad Hasan, Turki Alshemmari, Mohamad Hasan, Cady Lalanne, and Marcus Georges-Hunt was used for 7.12 minutes against Manama in Game 1. Again, we'll go into a bit more detail about this lineup later.
Instead, coach Peter Schomers went to a lineup that was a bit bigger with Yousif Alhamdan replacing Turki Alshemmari for 9.02 minutes. This worked out well for Kuwait Club as they outscored Manama 20-10 in those minutes. Kuwait Club had played this lineup before in previous games, though only for 14.0 total minutes where they scored 31 points and allowed 24 points.
Manama's main five were still the most used lineup, but they were outscored 14-21 in their time on the court together. Instead, it was the second frequent lineup (Lamont Jones, Mohammed Hamooda, Elijah Robinson, Ali Rashed, and Mustafa Rashed) that did relatively better (scored 19 points and allowed 21 points) in 8.28 minutes.
Most used lineups (total minutes) for WASL West Asia Finals teams in Game 1
In West Asia, it was a bit more straightforward. Both teams had their preferred lineup and stuck with it for the bulk of an exciting game between the two teams.
"Fearsome Five" lineups prior to the Finals
Going back to Kuwait Club for a moment: there is a reason coach Schomers felt comfortable using those five players with the frequency that he used them this season.
Among lineups that have been used in multiple games and for a significant amount of minutes, the Hasan brothers, Alshemmari, Lalanne, and Georges-Hunt are arguably among the best - a Fearsome Five, if you must.
Before the Finals, they racked up 2.8 points per minute with an efficiency of 57.1 percent from the field while allowing only 1.7 points per minute . Between the five, they recorded 32 assists while turning the ball over only 9 times, hitting yet another efficient milestone of 3.6 assists-to-turnover ratio.
Manama know well their wrath, too. In the 14.8 minutes across two Group Phase games that Kuwait Club unleashed this Fearsome Five, they were able to outscore their Bahraini opponents by a total of 26 points while shooting 63.3 percent from the field.
Perhaps it was that familiarity that allowed Manama to slow down this "Fearsome Five" in Game 1 of the Gulf Finals. Still, it didn't matter as coach Schomers found his advantage in another lineup nonetheless as stated above.
|Team||Lineup||Total Minutes||Points per Minute||Points Allowed per Minute|
Over in West Asia prior to the Finals, Gorgan had an alternate lineup up their sleeves aside from their most frequent five - although it is as just as, or even more, lethal.
The main change in this secondary lineup is taking out Udras for Salar Monji. This resulted in Gorgan scoring 2.8 points per minute on 52.3 percent shooting while only allowing 1.9 points per minute. Coach Mehran Hatami went to this lineup only 20.7 minutes so far in 4 games, but it has given his team great results.
Among the lineups used by Gorgan in Game 1 of the Finals, this was one that scored more points than allowed (8-7) despite shooting only 25 percent on 12 field-goal attempts.
Lineups to Watch
For Al Riyadi and Manama, there were still some moving pieces as both made late-season changes.
After Game 1 of the Finals, we're seeing the trends that were building up in the prior games play a role in their game plans.
In Al Riyadi’s case, their current core five can be even better than what the statistics before the Finals suggest - and that was frightening for Gorgan.
However, the game-changer in Game 1 of the Finals for Al Riyadi was having a more aggressively defensive-minded guard like Ali Mansour mixed in with Arakji, Gyokchyan, Reath, and Murphy instead of Zeinoun. Coach Farran ran this lineup for just over 5 minutes and they outscored Gorgan by 8 points - exactly the margin of victory at the final buzzer.
For Manama, a lineup worth looking at is one that involves Mustafa Rashed.
The rising youngster lost quite some playing time with the arrival of Momo Jones, but coach Schomers has been looking in recent games how to get him back into the act. A lineup that Manama had gone to in 4 games before the Finals for a total of 10.5 minutes includes Rashed and Jones as well as Mohammed Hamooda, Hasan Mohamed, and Elijah Robinson.
The lineup was key to Manama's win in Game 2 against Kazma in the Qualification to the Semi-Finals as they outscored Kazma 11-4 in just under 2 minutes. It's no surprise that with Jones and Rashed, this group of five can put up some points (2.4 points per minute), but there's also the concern about their defense (2.7 points allowed per minute).
And that's what Manama tried going to in the first game of the Finals. Mustafa Rashed played a total of 28 minutes, the most he's played this entire season. The lineups used by Manama that featured Rashed for significant minutes all produced positive results, which means coach Pantelis Gavriel could have something to utilize to change their fortunes.