25 May, 2024
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FIBA WASL Final 8 2024 Semi-Finals: Who goes to BCL Asia?

DOHA (Qatar) - Wael Arakji picked Shahrdary Gorgan as one of the FIBA West Asia Super League (WASL) teams he would like to see qualify for the inaugural Basketball Champions League Asia (BCL Asia), having been a fan himself of Iranian basketball in general.

The two finalists of this year's Final 8 will book their spots to Asia's highest club competition and the other team that the star guard wants to make it is, of course, his very own.

"I like Iranian basketball, to be honest," the Al Riyadi main man said. "They have been playing great basketball, and I believe these two countries deserve to be at the big stage."

 

The respect is mutual between both teams that Arsalan Kazemi is choosing the Yellow Castle as well as one of those representing the region in BCL Asia aside from Gorgan.

"Obviously I wanna pick us, and I think Riyadi got the best chance in the other group," said the veteran forward. "I think what separates us and Riyadi is the local players that we have."

Both stars offered their takes prior to the Final 8 but fast forward to now, their chance to carry the FIBA WASL flag together in the June 9-15 competitions in Dubai may have to wait.

Only one of them will advance to the BCL Asia as Al Riyadi and Gorgan find themselves crossing paths in the Final 8 Semi-Finals on Friday at the Lusail Multipurpose Hall.

Game time is set at 15:00 local time, marking yet another meeting between the two after battling one another in the West Asia League Final in the last two seasons.

The Lebanese powerhouse have won both instances but that isn't the only edge they have entering the Semis. They finished the Group Phase as the no. 1 team in Group A with a clean 3-0 record after beating BC Astana, Sagesse SC, and defending champions Manama.

Gorgan, on the other hand, settled for the no. 2 seed in Group B with a 2-1 record. They won their first two games against Kazma and Tamil Nadu but their aspirations of finishing on top of the pool got crushed by Kuwait Club, who ended the preliminaries at 3-0.

That defeat may not just be the motivating factor for the Iranian side, though. Of the five times they've faced Riyadi in FIBA WASL, only one game went in their favor - Game 2 of the recent West Asia Final in Tehran - and it couldn't be any sweeter if they win in the big stage.

"It's not gonna be easy. But we know them. We know them very well. We scout them a lot. We know each one's strengths and weaknesses," said Al Riyadi guard Amir Saoud.

But they aren't the only ones that could reach BCL Asia. The other Semis bracket features Kuwait Club and Sagesse, which should go down as a classic when they duke it out at 18:00.

Kuwait Club are coming in as one of the favorites being the defending two-time Gulf League champions, and many are interested to see if they can finally finish the story this time.

It's been almost a year since suffering that heartbreaker to Manama in the FIBA WASL Final in Dubai and although they've gotten back at the Bahraini side by beating them in the sub-zone finale again, there won't be any more fitting redemption than winning the big one.

"That hurt," said Kuwait Club head coach Peter Schomers in a previous interview as he recalled the 67-59 defeat that foiled their bid of a double. "My players and I remember that."

But the team knows, too, that it can't look too far ahead, for they will have to overcome Sagesse, first and foremost, before thinking of anything else.

The Lebanese side would want to make a mark, too. They weren't even supposed to be here - the club was actually a last-minute replacement to Dynamo Club - but they have gone this far in the season, and now the wards of Coach Jad El Hajj are aspiring to go all the way.

"Now we are in the Semis. The most important thing is to keep going, to get one more win, and we play the Final," said the former Lebanese men's team mentor.

 

FIBA