Al Shamal are aiming for a hat-trick of Qatar Men’s Basketball League titles when they take on Al Gharafa in the final today at the Al Gharafa Indoor Hall.
The double defending champions are coming into the final with one loss in the last five games, while Al Gharafa are unbeaten in their last five games.
Al Shamal’s Moroccan coach Hassan Hached, who is going for back-to-back titles admitted the final, a rematch of last year’s decider, will be a different ball game.
“We have won the last two finals, but we all know finals are not like a league game. Final is always a pressure game, but I have full confidence in my players,” he said.
Al Shamal won in 2019 defeating Al Arabi 80-77 in the final and in 2020 they won against Al Gharafa 81-70.
On the other hand Al Gharafa are eager to regain the league title after a gap of seven years. Al Gharafa had last won the title in 2014 when their current captain Abdulrahman Saad was still a teenager. Al Gharafa’s long-serving coach Kosai Hatem also believes his side is ready for the final.
“We have played the season very well. I have full confidence in my team, if we play to our potential, we have a very good chance to win the title,” Hatem said.
In the last couple of years Gharafa has had a roller-coaster ride, having lost to 17-time champions Al Rayyan, the most successful team in the history, in the 2016 final, but winning the prestigious Amir Cup and Qatar Cup in 2017.
Apart from Saad, Nedim Muslic and Franklin Session are key players for Gharafa, while Georgian international Mikheil Berishvili and Lebanon’s Wael Arakji will lead the defending champions. Amir Cup champions Al Arabi will meet Al Sadd in the third-place match, which will kick off at 5pm today, while the final will be played at 7pm.
QATAR CUP DRAW
Nine teams will participate in this year’s Qatar Cup, the draw for which was held yesterday. The competition is expected to be a keenly-contested one as it will be held just after the Qatar Men’s Basketball League. The competition will commence from January 26.
Meanwhile, Doha was named as the venue of Group B FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers next month, FIBA Regional Office Asia said on Friday. Tokyo was previously announced as hosts for Group B, but due to restrictions imposed by the Japanese authorities, the Group B competition has been moved to Doha.
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