13 November, 2023
06 May, 2024
14 Karim Raphael Ezzedine (SAG)
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FIBA WASL Final 8 tickets at stake in Third-Place Games. Who gets it?

BEIRUT (Lebanon) - Four teams will vie for the two remaining tickets to the FIBA WASL Season 2 Final 8 as Third-Place Games in both the Sub-Zone Leagues are set this week.

Kazma versus Muharraq Club

Monday, April 22
Shaikh Saad Alabdullah Sport Hall Complex, Kuwait City
20:00 local time (GMT+3)

Kazma and Muharraq will fight for the right to become the third team from the Gulf League to reach the pan-regional tilt's culminating event as they battle one another on Monday night.

Coach Bojan Lazic and Co. have the homecourt advantage, with the clash set at the Shaikh Saad Alabdullah Sport Hall in Kuwait City in what could also be a chance for them to exorcise a ghost of the past after what happened the last time they played a FIBA WASL game in the venue.

Last April 2, Kazma got swept by reigning Gulf League champions Kuwait Club by way of a humiliating 122-79 defeat in Game 2 of their Semi-Final series, leaving their chief mentor lamenting the way they showed up in what was then their most important game of the season.

Lead big man Clint Chapman was as downcast but there remained a glimmer of hope in his eyes, vowing that they'll be ready by the time the Third-Place Game comes.

"All I can say is I'll be ready," he said, motivated to make the Final 8 this time after falling short with Al Hilal back in Season 1. "I'll never give up faith in the game of basketball. There's always a chance. And I'll do whatever it takes to seize the opportunity."

Chapman hopes that they are all really ready for the battle ahead, for they know that a tough challenge awaits with Muharraq keen on advancing as well.

Like Kazma, their upcoming opponents are hungry, too, after being swept by defending FIBA WASL champions Manama in an all-Bahraini Semis affair.

But the results of both games weren't lopsided. Muharraq gave their domestic rivals a good fight - Games 1 and 2 ended by just an average margin of 9.0 points - and that makes lead guard Bader Malabes optimistic of their chances in the battle for third.

"At least we knew our capabilities ... We'll work on it. Our main focus now in FIBA WASL is to get the third place to make it to the Final 8," said the veteran playmaker.

Sagesse versus Al Shorta

Wednesday, April 24
Ghazir Club Stadium, Lebanon
21:45 local time (GMT+3)

Set slug it out in the West Asia League Third-Place Game, meanwhile, are Sagesse and Al Shorta on Wednesday at 21:45 local time at the Ghazir Club Stadium in Lebanon.

Homecourt advantage is on the Green Castle, with another sold-out crowd expected to show up to support a team that's bent on winning after falling short of wielding the upset ax against the reigning sub-zone champions Al Riyadi in the best-of-3 Semis.

The last time Sagesse played in Ghazir saw them push their long-time domestic rivals to a deciding Game 2 by way of a dramatic 109-106 win in Game 2, but unfortunately they couldn't get the job done as the do-or-die was an anticlimactic 86-65 result.

Al Riyadi would go on to forge a title rematch with Shahrdary Gorgan, becoming the second team as well from the West Asia League to reach the Final 8 after the latter.

So tough was the defeat for Sagesse after giving their foes a run for their money in the series' first two games, which were both decided by three points, but head coach Jad El Hajj refuses to dwell on it, with his sights set on finishing third and claim their ticket.

"We have to put the game behind us. We will play the Iraqi team on our court. We have to focus. We have to get that win to make it to the Final 8," he said. "Hopefully, we make it."

Easily a point of emphasis for Sagesse is taking care of the ball better after committing 17 turnovers in Game 3, which is something they wouldn't want to happen again especially against a team like Al Shorta, which are known to push the pace behind their defense.

The team of Coach Ghassan Sarkis proved as much when they threatened Gorgan in a must-win Game 2 of their Semis, where the team led by as many as 10 points.

But the Iranian champions were just too composed in the endgame, with Salar Monji and Sina Vahedi nailing the go-ahead bucket and the dagger, respectively, to complete the comeback and, most importantly, give the club another crack at the West Asia crown.

It would be interesting to see how these teams have learned from their respective Semis stints in trying to reach the next stage, where two tickets to the inaugural Basketball Champions League Asia, the continent's premier club competition, are up for grabs as well.