They know each other well, they share the same Basketball Africa League (BAL) ambition, but now AS Salé and Petro de Luanda are set to lock horns for a place in the 2022 BAL Semi-Final.
These are two heavyweights in the African basketball scene with a storied past.
The game between AS Salé and Petro de Luanda on Saturday, May 21 in Kigali, is a battle of titans like no other. It’s arguably one of the most anticipated clashes in this year’s BAL calendar.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED TO THE PLAYOFFS
Although AS Salé and Petro de Luanda reached the 2022 BAL playoffs in different circumstances, everything starts from zero moving forward.
Petro de Luanda won four of their five Nile Conference games while AS Salé won three of their five Sahara Conference games to make it to the BAL playoffs.
The two teams made small but significant changes to their squads that are likely to impact their performances in Kigali.
AS Salé bolstered their squad with the signings of Moroccan international player Ali Lahrichi and Guinean Ousmane Drame.
Lahrichi is a well-known guard across the continent who can contribute on both ends of the floor, such is his aggressiveness and tireless attitude.
Dram is a 6-foot-9 center with an ability to protect the rim and contribute offensively.
Join Lahrichi and Drame to the already-established quartet of Terrel Stoglin, Adboulaye Harouna, Alvaro Masa and Khalid Boukichou, and the Moroccan champions have a decent squad that can give Petro de Luanda some hard time.
The Angolan champions kept most of their squad from the Nile Conference although they added Elbert Matthews, an American left-handed shooting guard who has recently played in Iceland.
When AS Salé and Petro de Luanda faced off a year ago in the inaugural BAL, the latter prevailed in their two meetings in the Rwandan capital.
In their group phase meeting, Petro de Luanda defeated AS Salé 97-78. Two days later, Petro beat AS Salé 79-72 in the Quarter-Finals.
SUCCESS IN AFRICA
AS Salé and Petro de Luanda rank among some of the top basketball clubs on the continent.
The Salé-based club won the 2017 FIBA Africa Champions Cup after beating hosts Etoile Sportive Rades of Tunisia. Prior to that historical triumph, AS Salé clinched three third-place finishes and a Second-Place in 2019.
Petro de Luanda have won the FIBA Africa Champions Cup on two occasions (2006 and 2015).
LIZ MILLS vs JOSÉ NETO
AS Salé head coach Liz Mills and Petro’s Jose Neto have recently faced off with Mills winning the battle.
Mills, who entered the history books as the first woman to work as head coach in the BAL, was Kenya’s head coach when the East African’s stunned Angola in February 2021 in Yaounde, Cameroon during the second round of the 2021 AfroBasket qualifiers. Neto was Angola’s interim coach.
WHAT THE NUMBERS SAY ABOUT AS SALÉ AND PETRO
If these two teams’ recent BAL statistics are anything to go by, then AS Salé have reasons to stay confident and move on from their two losses to Petro de Luanda last year.
A thorough look into the numbers indicate that AS Salé record a higher Field-Goal percentage (46.16) compared to Petro’s 40.74 percent, which is fundamental in a game of basketball.
Petro de Luanda have moved the ball better, averaging 23 assists compared to AS Salé’s 18.8, and the Angolan champions are more aggressive in the paint, recording 44 rebounds per game against AS Salé’s 39.
AS SALÉ AND PETRO’S WEAKNESSES
Terrel Stoglin has averaged 39 minutes per game, which is the highest playing time by any BAL player so far. AS Salé need more contribution from other players.
Petro de Luanda tend to struggle to comeback when trailing in critical moments of the game. That was a defining moment when they found themselves trailing by four (71-67) with 4:24 minutes left against Zamalek, before throwing the towel in to lose 85-72.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Terrel Stoglin needs no introduction when it comes to the BAL.
Stoglin has established a new BAL record after scoring 41 points in a 96-90 defeat to US Monastir in Dakar in March.
The 6-foot-3 guard has been the hear-and-soul of this AS Salé team, averaging a tournament-high of 33.2 points per game.
Joining Stoglin is Abdoulaye Harouna, a terrific scorer whose shooting ability makes things look easy.
Carlos Morais has been superb throughout this BAL season, and he is the go-to man for the Angolan outfit.
This clash between AS Salé and Petro de Luanda is wide open and it’s likely to be determined in small details.