25 May, 2024
01 June
33 Diamond Louis Stone (GOR)
Game Report
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Young-led Kuwait Club, Shahrdary Gorgan share Group B lead

DOHA (Qatar) - Kuwait Club and Shahrdary Gorgan share the Group B lead after downing their respective foes in the FIBA WASL Final 8 opener, Saturday at the Lusail Sports Hall.

The defending two-time Gulf League champions were the first on board following a convincing 100-76 rout of Tamil Nadu in the curtain-raise, and the back-to-back West Asia League runners-up would follow suit after beating Kazma, 93-79, in the second match of Day 1.

Joe Young only needed three quarters to score 30 points, which he made behind an efficient 8-of-12 shooting from the field that included a 6-of-8 clip from deep to lead Kuwait Club. He also collected 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal for an efficiency of 30 in 19 minutes.

The former NBA guard scored 19 in the first half as he helped Cady Lalanne and the others in imposing their might in the second period that overwhelmed the champions from India.

""It was a great game plan. We really came out with high intensity. It was really a great game for us to get ready for the next game. And I thought the guys came out very focused. You see, we played high-level defense that makes our offense better," said Young.

Lalanne already had 11 across the first two quarters and eventually finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds for a 31 EFF. The veteran big man also had 4 assists and 3 blocks in a performance that earned him STEP AHEAD Player of the Game honors.

Marcus Georges-Hunt was the other double-digit scorer with 17 points, alongside 6 rebounds and 4 assists in the victory that saw all but two score at least 3 points for Kuwait Club, who nailed a total of 13 triples and shot an efficient 53-percent from the floor.

"The first game is never easy," offered lead assistant Michael Matsentides, who manned the sidelines in this game as head coach Peter Schomers is in sick bay. "We came as a favorite in this league and the players followed our plan offensively and defensively."

Meanwhile, Will Cherry top-scored for Gorgan with 16 points, together with 4 rebounds and 8 assists for 16 EFF en route to being named STEP AHEAD Player of the Game.

Cherry was crucial in helping the Iranian side overcome a tough stand by their foes, contributing in a 12-4 run to erase a five-point deficit and turn it to a 44-41 halftime lead. Gorgan would double down in the second half to eventually secure the 14-point win.

"That was an ugly game. Very ugly game," said the 33-year-old guard. "There's a lot of things that we could've done better. We didn't shoot the ball particularly well. But a win is a win. We'll take any win the way we can get it because it's one step closer to the championship."

Sina Vahedi and big man Diamond Stone supplied 14 points apiece, with the latter scoring 10 of his points in the first quarter alone. The seasoned big also had 3 boards and 2 blocks.

Amirhossein Azari produced 13 points, spiked by a pair of triples, while Navid Rezaeifar registered a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds for 15 EFF. Forward Yousof Vand added 10 points as a total of six players finished in twin digits in the triumph.

"That was a tough game. The first game of the tournament is the toughest. It takes time to adapt. That was big challenge. We had some mistakes ... but with their dedication and commitment, we managed to win the game," said Gorgan head coach Mostafa Hashemi.

That balanced attack enabled Gorgan to withstand the outburst of Clint Chapman, who fired 30 points and 9 rebounds with 4 blocks to lead the team from Kuwait.