13 November, 2023
06 May, 2024
24 Hayk Gyokchyan (RIY)
to read

Are we on pace to see Sub-Zone Finals rematches?

BEIRUT (Lebanon) - All four protagonists of the FIBA West Asia Super League (WASL) Sub-Zone Finals in the inaugural competition could forge rematches this Season 2.

Manama and Kuwait Club could once again vie for Gulf League supremacy, while Al Riyadi and Shahrdary Gorgan could see themselves fighting for the West Asia League title anew after these clubs took care of business in their respective Semi-Finals openers last week.

The reigning FIBA WASL champions, for one, were the first to put their foot into the Gulf League Final following an 86-78 win over Muharraq in an all-Bahraini encounter at the Khalifa Sport City, thanks to a balanced attack led by the all-around Sir'Dom Pointer.

That victory put Coach Linos Gavriel and Co. closer from returning to the sub-zone league's title round, which is definitely something they've been dreaming of for another crack at the Gulf crown after being swept by the then-undefeated Kuwait Club back in Season 1.

Well, Manama did earn the best of paybacks when they took down the Thon Maker-reinforced Kuwait Club in the FIBA WASL Final in Dubai, but ruling their sub-zone league while in their back-to-back bid this season should make it all the more sweeter.

But of course, it's not lost on them that there's still Game 2 to be played in the same venue, where they're expecting no less than a fightback from their hungry opponents just like what the latter showed during the final period of their series curtain-raiser.

Kuwait Club are also treading their own road in repeating in the Gulf League, showing as much through a 101-87 conquest of Kazma in their own Semis affair in Kuwait City.

Cady Lalanne and Hamad Hasan bannered the win that not only got them closer to the sub-zone Final, but should also serve as a warning to others. It was their second win in a row in the league, getting their groove back after suffering back-to-back losses in the Group Phase.

For sure, they want to extend that streak in Game 2 in the same battleground to formalize their return, although they know, too, that it won't be easy, with Kazma bent on changing the narrative this time after suffering multiple Finals losses to them in the local league.

Over at the West Asia League, Al Riyadi moved just three wins away from a successful sub-zone title defense bid following a 95-92 escape from Sagesse at Zouk Mikael. They remained unbeaten as well this season, extending their perfect run to five.

It is by far the closest game of the sub-zone Semis to date, with Al Riyadi needing some assistance from Lady Luck in the endgame to come away with the victory after opposing guard Jonathan Gibson missed a potential game-tying three-pointer as time expired.

Momentum is definitely on the side of Game 1 star Karim Zeinoun and the rest of the repeat-seeking crew, but it would be interesting to see how Game 2 would turn out, given that the series shifts into the Green Castle's very own lair at the Ghazir Club Stadium on Wednesday.

The other Semis bracket, meanwhile, witnessed Shahrdary Gorgan deal a masterclass at the Azadi Basketball Hall by way of a 102-64 domination of Al Shorta.

Will Cherry and Sina Vahedi led the lopsided victory, and they are once again expected to lead the attack as they try to finish it off in Game 2 on Thursday at the Al Shaeb Hall in Baghdad.

Should Al Riyadi and Gorgan successfully send their own foes packing, it should be a thrilling West Asia League Final rematch featuring two of Season 2's unbeaten teams thus far.

But everybody knows that Gorgan came into this season more motivated after losing in the inaugural sub-zone league finale via sweep in the best-of-3 series.

But then again, all these potential sub-zone Finals rematches will heavily depend on how the perennial favorites will deal with their opponents this week. Each of them knows, too, that they cannot look too far ahead, and will all have to deal with what's in front of them firstly.