Rivers Hoopers Clinch Basketball Africa League Playoffs Spot in Dakar

Rivers Hoopers became the first Sahara Conference team to qualify to the Basketball Africa League (BAL) 2024 playoffs scheduled to take place later this month in Kigali, Rwanda  thanks to a 78-71 double-overtime win over APR on Saturday. Devine Eke’s put-back sent the game to the first overtime (58-58) before the Hoopers outscored APR 13-6 in the final five minutes to become the first Nigerian side to reach the BAL playoffs.

Peter Olisemeka came up with a remarkable performance, finishing a double-double of 17 points, 19 rebounds while dishing out 5 assists and swatting 3 blocks shots.

On the day that lethal scorer Will Perry had a quiet performance, Eke, who had a slow start, contributed massively on both ends of the floor, finishing with 18 points and 18 rebounds as the Hoopers improved to 4-1 with a game remaining.

APR started the game with a relatively new line-up with Jean Jacques Wilson stepping in for Williams Robeyn, but they ended up needing deeper changes as the game progressed.

APR Obadiah Noel, who scored the opening 2 points, limped off the court four minutes into game, and, to make matter worse for the Rwandan champions, Adonis Filer was stretchered off by the emergency services to receive medical. Noel and Filer never returned to the game.

The Rwandan champions had their toughest game in Dakar and dropped to 2-3 ahead of the last day of the Sahara Conference today.

“We have a lot of heart,” said an elated Kelvin Amayo who had a rough night turning the ball over 10 times although he contributed 13 points.

Amayo said: “Everybody counted us out, but I have been saying this since the training camp in Lagos and Port Harcourt… A lot of people were laughing at what happened to Nigeria teams before; But we created a really good group.”

Amayo lamented the APR short-handed roster, but he acknowledged the difficulty of coming up on top. “I am sorry for what happened to the other guys but the other group of guys that came in played very hard. They rallied for those guys. First time we beat them by four, but it was a big game too.”

APR face hosts AS Douanes today while Rivers Hoopers will go up against US Monastir.

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