Why WASL participation serves a bigger purpose for Gorgan
BEIRUT (Lebanon) - Behnam Yakhchali has his eyes on the bigger prize.
Or, in his words, on 'the ultimate goal.'
The star guard is keen on making it back and conquering the prestigious FIBA Asia Champions Cup with Shahrdari Gorgan, and that's precisely the reason why they all would want to rule the West Asia Super League (WASL) as well.
"We are here to win it all," declared the 27-year-old, who joined Gorgan back in September of last year after a season-long stint in Germany. "Not just WASL, but the ultimate goal is to win the Asia Champions Cup."
The Champions Cup is very dear to him.
Yakhchali has played in the continent's highest club competition for three years in a row from 2016-18 when he was still with Petrochimi, who, at that time, were in the midst of their reign of dominance in the Iranian Super League.
That stint was highlighted by a golden finish in 2018 in Thailand, sweeping their way to the crown to give the organization its first Champions Cup title while also making Iran the most successful nation in the annual tilt with six crowns.
It's been quite a while since the veteran internationalist has basked in that kind of glory. That's why he's been looking to return, and, possibly, essay another championship run this time with the reigning two-time Iranian champs.
But of course, they aren't overlooking WASL.
The regional tilt is extremely important in their aspirations, for the two best teams by the end of the Final 8 in June will qualify to the 2023 Champions Cup -- the cagefest's return from a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
Yakhchali and Gorgan have booked a ticket to the Final 8 by making it to the WASL-West Asia Final following a two-game sweep of ZobAhan Isfahan, emerging triumphant anew in a clash of budding Iranian rivals.
"It's big history for Gorgan," said Head Coach Mehran Hatami. "It's the first time for this club to be in this situation. It's the result of the great club that we have. And, the great, great, great fans that we have that support us."
But they're not happy just to be there.
Gorgan are out to bring home the West Asia championship as well, which they'll try to accomplish against Wael Arakji and Al Riyadi in the best-of-3 Final beginning on May 11 at the Azadi Basketball Hall in Tehran.
"It's not yet finished for us," said Mohammad Jamshidi.
"We need two more wins to get the championship, We're not satisfied with this achievement," added the sweet-shooting guard, who fired 24 points in the Semis clincher. "We will do our best to get that championship."