FIBA WASL Season 2 Gulf League: Group B preview
BEIRUT (Lebanon) - Familiar faces will take center stage as returning teams banner Group B of the Gulf League in the FIBA West Asia Super League (WASL) Season 2.
0/12 games played
|2||Shabab Al Ahli - Dubai||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
The favorite: Manama
Manama lead the cast of returnees in the group and are the undisputed favorites, being the inaugural FIBA WASL champions following their conquest of the Final 8 last June.
Confidence is through the roof for this team, for that title run enabled them to complete a rare 'treble' as they also won the Khalifa bin Salman Cup and the 2022-23 Bahraini Premier League title.
They're coming in with even more experience as well. They took part in the FIBA Intercontinental Cup 2023 in Singapore, where they went up against some of the world's best clubs.
The underdog: Al Shamal
Of the Group B teams, only Al Shamal are the FIBA WASL first-timers.
It would be intriguing to see how they'd fare against the old-timers, but the team is just as hungry to perform - and win, of course. Al Shamal is coming off a runner-up finish in the 2022-23 Qatari Basketball League and the tilt is a chance for them to strike gold in a bigger stage.
The pivotal game: Manama versus Kazma
Manama will have themselves a test right in their very first game of Season 2 as they're hosting familiar foes Kazma on November 20 at the BBA Arena in the Bahraini capital.
The Kuwaiti side has some business to settle with the champs, hungry to exact vengeance after being booted out of their best-of-3 Qualification to Semi-Finals series that went the limit.
It should be yet another emotional counter between both squads, which could also set the tone on how Group B play would turn out moving forward into the season.
The open question: Can the other returnees make a splash?
Sure, Manama will have much of the attention in Season 2, But the others should not be forgotten, particularly the two other returning teams in Group B.
Shabab Al Ahli-Dubai and Kazma got past the Group Phase in Season 1, but will these clubs get over the hump this time? Can they dominate in the Season 2 preliminaries?
The team from UAE actually impressed early in the inaugurals when they won their first four games, until that unbeaten streak ended at the hands of Kazma. Then led by Salah Mejri, the luck seemingly transferred to the latter as they overcame a bad start to the meet and reached the QSF.
Shabab Al Ahli still managed to make it deep into the Final Phase, reaching the Semis before finishing third in the Gulf League to book a spot in the Final 8, which they went on to host.
But definitely, both teams aren't satisfied with those performances, and Season 2 offers them a chance to go deeper and reach for far bigger success.