Play-Off Switch On: Big names' big games led teams to WASL Finals and to Final 8
BEIRUT (Lebanon) - Both the WASL Gulf and West Asia Finals got completed fast after four teams swept their respective rivals in the recent Semis.
That's thanks to the big names who came through with big games, further showing why they deserve such lofty billing as they led by example in closing out a series.
Now, before fully shifting our focus to the Finals, we take a quick look back at some of the finest performances of the week that also led their clubs to the Final 8.
'MOMO' DOES IT AGAIN
Without a shadow of a doubt, Lamont Jones is a huge reason why Manama were able to find their next level that has led to a thrilling ride this season.
That was evident in Game 2 versus Al Hilal last Monday. The 10-year pro produced 24 points, 4 rebounds, and 7 assists to lead the Bahraini champions in sweeping one of the first Gulf Semis entrants by way of a big 86-71 victory.
Manama became the first to reach the Gulf Final, entering the best-of-3 title bout as one of the league's hottest teams as they're in the midst of a 4-game winning streak that began after losing their Qualification to Semi-Finals opener versus Kazma.
And, yes, 'Momo' was a major driving force in that triumphant stretch with averages of 21.0 points, 4.75 rebounds, and 9.5 assists, highlighted by a 32-5-10 outing in Game 3 of the QSF to finish off their Kuwaiti counterparts.
A true closer, indeed.
KEVIN MURPHY, LIKE THE OLD TIMES
Kevin Murphy has proven how elite of a scorer he is during his time with Gulf side Kazma earlier in the season, and he showed that same form again last Wednesday as Al Riyadi battled Beirut Club in Game 2 of the West Asia Semis.
The deadshot winger fired 30 points on a 76.9-percent accuracy from the floor, including a 4-of-6 from downtown to lead his side past their gritty inter-city rivals, 102-92, to punch the first ticket to the best-of-3 Final.
It was Murphy's first 30-point outing since dropping 34 in Kazma's 84-77 win over Al Bashaer last January 3, yet another proof that he's become a figure so important for Al Riyadi in their quest of winning every championship they could this year.
That, of course, includes the WASL championship, which they have a shot of accomplishing by booking themselves a trip to the Final 8 in June.
MOHAMMAD JAMSHIDI SHARP ANEW
Mohammad Jamshidi did finish with decent numbers in their West Asia Semis opener versus ZobAhan last week but it clearly wasn't his usual shooting night.
The veteran internationalist finished with 16 points in their 91-72 win, although he went just 6-for-16 from the field in 37 minutes of action.
He changed that come Game 2 on Thursday night. The 31-year-old guard made 52.9-percent of his shots on the way to 24 points, alongside 2 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals to lead his side to the Final through an 86-81 victory.
Jamshidi going back to his old self came so timely as long-time teammate Behnam Yakchali was held to just 10 points on 11 shots with 10 boards -- that, after finishing with 25 points on an efficient 9-of-13 FG clip back in Game 1.
TURKI'S FINEST YET
It seems that Kuwait Club receive surprise sparks almost every night and their Gulf Semis Game 2 clash with Shabab Al Ahli-Dubai was Turki Alshemmari's time to shine.
After scoring just 3 points in Game 1, the 1.76 M (5'9") guard was on-point from deep, nailing 6 treys to finish with 18 points to help his side show their foes the door, 110-100, to make their way into the championship bout undefeated.
It's been a while since the last time Alshemmari scored in double figures in WASL action. He registered 15 points against Al Nasr Riyadh back in the Group Phase last March 21 -- eight days after scoring 11 against Manama.
It was the only other times he tallied two-digit outputs this season, and so it'd be interesting to see if he can do so consistently in the Final against Manama as Kuwait Club aims to set up a date with destiny by winning the Gulf unscathed.