In terms coaching accomplishment and acumen, you can’t find better than Mehran Shahintab of Mahram (left in the combo pic above) and Fouad Abouchakra of Al Riyadi Beirut in WABA. The contributions of this dynamic duo has, to a large extent, been one of the catalysts in propelling WABA itself to the forefront of action in international basketball.
And if the two pitted against the result is, invariably, the clichéd Battle Royale.
This correspondent spoke to the two coaches as they prepared for the WABA League 2011semifinals that tips off with Mahram hosting the first game of the best-of-three series at Tehran on Tuesday.
In order to keep it fair, even and equal I posed the same questions to both coaches. Here’s what they had to say.
FIBA Asia: Your first thoughts about your opponents in the semifinals.
Abouchakra: Mahram are twice FIBA Asia Champions Cup winners. They are a very good team, have made some big changes in their line-up this year.
Shahintab: Riyadi is one of the greatest teams in our region. There’s no doubt about that. I think they will come out hard at us, and it won’t be easy for us.
FIBA Asia: The first game is in Tehran. Is there an advantage (for Mahram)?
Abouchakra: We have played in Iran many times earlier. Iranian people are very hospitable and excellent supporters of sport. The last time we played in Iran, we won the WABA Champions Cup in 2008. I think we have to give everything we have in the first game.
Shahintab: I would have preferred playing in Beirut first. Playing an away game first brings the team together better, especially when we hold the home advantage for the other games.
FIBA Asia: What is that one thing you are concerned about your opponents?
Abouchakra: We are never scared of any opposition, but we respect all teams, especially a team like Mahram and that too in Tehran. But we will enjoy the game and we will give our best in order to win.
Shahintab: Their game rhythm is excellent. It is very pleasing to see the way they play the whole game. It’s like watching an orchestra. They have experienced players who can keep control the game with good balance.
FIBA Asia: What are you confident about your team?
Abouchakra: Mahram are under pressure. They are yet in competition with Zob Ahan in the qualifying race for the FIBA Asia Champions Cup. We have already made the cut. Also Mahram is a new team this year, and I think this is where our team, which has the experience, can make it.
Shahintab: All Iran teams have shown great heart when faced with critical situations I am sure my players will bring a lot of passion into their game in the semifinals.
FIBA Asia: What is your prediction for the semifinals? 2-1? 2-0?
Shahintab: Nobody can, and should, make any speculation on the outcome. To me these are the best games of the entire WABA League. Having said that I must say, we are under pressure to qualify for the FIBA Asia Champions Cup. I hope we will win, and also qualify.
S Mageshwaran / FIBA Asia
Photos: Milad Payami (Shahintab) / Adnan Hajj Ali (Abouchakra)
Edit by: SUPERBITAR
Photo on Right Side done by SUPERBITAR