Today, «Astana» starts in a new international tournament called the West Asian Super League. All tournament matches will be held in Dubai, and the first match in the group stage is against the local team, «Shabab Al-Ahli.»
This club was founded in 2012 and has since become the champion of the UAE nine times: in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, and 2023. The basketball team is part of a sports club that also includes football players.
The hosts' journey to the Final Eight cannot be called easy: in the Gulf League, they only made it out of the group stage in second place, losing to «Al-Hilal.» In the match for the right to advance to the semifinals, «Shabab Al-Ahli» defeated «Al-Nasr» (2-1 in the series) but then lost both semifinal matches to «Kuwait.» Nevertheless, «Shabab Al-Ahli» secured third place and a spot in the Final Eight: in the decisive match, they beat «Al-Hilal» with a score of 88-76, finishing the group stage in first place.
The team is coached by Bosnian coach Zoran Zupčević, who has great experience working with basketball players from the UAE. The standout players include center Kais Omar Alshabebi (15.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per game on average in the early stages of the league), and guard Said Aladjmani (5.3 assists per game). It is also worth noting Ukrainian center Artem Pustovyi, a former player of «Barcelona» and «Murcia.»
On the way to the tournament, one of the team leaders was American forward Nicholas Minnerath, but he did not make the roster for the Final Eight.
Interestingly, in 2017, «Astana» played against «Shabab Al-Ahli» in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup quarterfinals. At that time, the Kazakhstani team secured a victory and subsequently won the bronze medals in the tournament.
The match will start at 21:00 Astana time, and it can be watched on the Qazsport channel.
Detailed information about the tournament, standings, schedule, and match results are published in the Tournaments