Al Rayyan, Al Gharafa eye Qatar Cup glory
29 Mar 2017 - 21:47
By Rizwan Rehmat / The Peninsula
Basketball giants Al Rayyan will be looking to defend their title tomorrow when they take on arch-rivals Al Gharafa in the final of the Qatar Cup.
Al Rayyan, who have won the title 8 times, will be appearing in their 12th final in the tournament's history.
Al Gharafa, who won the event three times, are appearing in their 7th final.
Hassan Abdul Maati, coach of Al Rayyan, said he is expecting a tense battle at Al Gharafa Indoor Hall tomorrow.
"I expect a dogfight in the real sense. The country's two top sides will be facing each other," Abdul Maati said at a pre-event press conference.
"However, I have full confidence in my boys. One of the qualities in my team is if they put themselves to task, they can get any result they want in any top event," he said.
"I say that because they have won so many trophies in the past. They know how to get a job done. They have doing well for some 8-10 years now. We have gotten better day-by-day this season. There have been ups and downs. I feel we can get better," he said.
Qusay Hatem, coach of Al Gharafa, said his team is eager to erase the memories of losing last year's final.
"Al Rayyan is a quality side with a lot of experience. They have energetic young players as well who have played a vital role in them reach the final. But we are proud to be in the final and we want to go beyond that. We want to be the champions," Hatem said.
"This will be our second consecutive final and we want to lift the trophy this Friday," Hatem added.
"You could say the elite players in Qatar will be battling for top honours from their respective sides. I hope fans get to see a quality and engaging game of basketball. The main goal of such a championship is to prepare outstanding players for the Qatar national teams. This is the best you can get from such a final," Hatem said.
In the semi-finals, Al Gharafa beat QBF League champions El Jaish while Al Rayyan crushed Al Arabi for a place in tomorrow's final. With their win in the semi-finals, title-seeking Al Gharafa ended El Jaish's 21-match winning streak.
Great buzz ahead of the final, says QBF's Al Malki
The Qatar Basketball Federation (QBF) is expecting a rocking title clash in the final of the Qatar Cup, Secretary General Ali Al Malki said.
Al Rayyan take on Al Gharafa in repeat of last year's final tomorrow.
"We can feel the buzz ahead of the final. The basketball fans in the country expect an entertaining game on Friday," Al Malki said.
"The two teams possess all the ingredients that could make the game thrilling. Al Rayyan and Al Gharafa have reached the final on the basis of strong performances in the earlier rounds," he said.
"As far as the arrangements go, we are ready. QBF has put everything together to make the final a grand show for players, fans and the sponsors.
"There will be a lot of activity on the sidelines of the final. We expect some of the retired Qatari players to make an appearance in the final also," he said.
Rashid Al Abdullah, head of basketball at Al Rayyan, said: "The final will be a tough challenge but we are ready. It will be tough because both sides are eager to snare the Qatar Cup title. Al Gharafa are a distinguished side with potential to beat any side any day. Their focus on getting things done is brilliant."
Al Abdullah said: "They are one of the best sides in the country. As far as the Al Rayyan performances go, we have regrouped well in the last few days. We have done extremely well to reach the final. We are eager to get on the court for action. We will do everything in our power to retain the title."
Saleh Barabaa, head of basketball at Al Gharafa, said: "Our goal is to win the final and lift the trophy. We want to be the Qatar Cup champions this season. It will be difficult but we are not overawed by any situation."
Saleh added: "We hope to play a great game for fans. We have quality players in our ranks. Yes, we know there is nothing guaranteed in professional sport but we will strive for the best and to become champions on Friday."