Al Gharafa eye rare treble as El Jaish promise a fight

April 25, 2014 - 5:27:49 am
Al Gharafa coach Qusay Al Khalaf (second left) and his counterpart from El Jaish Dragoslav Milovanovic (third right) are joined by players Baker Ahmad Mohammed (in maroon jersey) and Omar Abdelqadir Salam (in yellow) along with Qatar Basketball Federation (QBF) officials at the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) headquarters in Doha. Al Gharafa host El Jaish in the Emir Cup final today.  

DOHA: Al Gharafa will be eyeing a rare basketball treble today when they take on unpredictable yet in-form El Jaish in the final of the Emir Cup.

Coached by Qusay Al Khalaf, Al Gharafa won the men’s league title and the Qatar Cup trophy earlier this season.

Al Gharafa booked their place in the final round, following their convincing 99-79 win over Al Sadd in their second match of the best-of-three series on Sunday.

Rivals El Jaish defeated Al Rayyan 84-72 in the third and deciding match of the best-of-three semi-final series at Al Gharafa SC Indoor Stadium on Tuesday.

Downey Devan Deangelo, with 26 points top scored for El Jaish on Tuesday. 

Taggart Shawn Larell (25) and Nathaniel Johnson (15) also made crucial contributions in El Jaish’s victory.

“Al Gharafa was absent from Emir Cup final for sometime. It is great that we are in this position (of winning third trophy),” coach Al Khalaf said yesterday.

“In this edition, we have been performing well and we are because we are experienced,” he added.

“Whenever we have been under pressure, we have delivered. The league this year was difficult,” he said. 

“But my team managed well.

“We would like to add another trophy to our collection,” Al Gharafa coach said. “It is a prestigious event and it will be a historic feat (of winning three trophies in a season),” Al Khalaf added.

El Jaish’s Serbian coach Dragoslav Milovanovic said fitness would play a lead role in a team dominating the final.

“This competition is very difficult because you have to be mentally and physically up for it,” Milovanovic said. “We need to find the best possibilities to dominate the 40 minutes. Motivation is key,” he added.

“Players need to find their motivation to play well in such a high profile game,” the Serbian added. 

“Staying motivated will give them the desire to maximise their talent,” he said.

Al Khalaf said Al Gharafa’s secret to success lay in taking one step at a time.

“It has been a tough season but we managed well,” Al Khalaf said. 

“The key was we took one match at a time. We did not rush. The turning point for us was when beat Al Arabi,” Al Khalaf recalled.

“We know El Jaish will be good in the final,” Al Khalaf said. 

“They have reached the final in good form,” he added. “El Jaish played well in the second half,” he explained. “I respect them a lot. El Jaish would not have reached the final if they did not have good players,” Al Khalaf said.

Milovanovic said the way his side rallied after losing the first game of the three-match series in the final-final was pleasing.

“That showed our motivation. We came back despite losing the first game. We know our rivals well. We have played each other many times. In my opinion Al Gharafa and El Jaish have played really well and exhibited a high technical level throughout this event,” Milovanovic said.

Al Gharafa player Omar Abdelqadir Salam said: “It will be a very interesting game. We are ready to compete and take our third title.”

El Jaish captain Baker Ahmad Mohammed, who has been struggling with an injury recently, said yestreday: “I will try and be fit for the final. The coach asked me how I was feeling. I said I am fine. But the medical team will have a look at me and then we decide whether I play or not. We have a great team and we have a lot of hunger to win.”

The match will be played at Al Gharafa Indoor Hall.