BAL 2024: Rivers Hoopers beat US Monastir to qualify for historic semifinal

BAL 2024: Get to know Rivers Hoopers & the seven other teams competing in the playoffs 

Nigerian champions Rivers Hoopers added to their already-packed laurels at this season’s Basketball Africa League (BAL) as they overcame 2022 champions US Monastir 92-88 in their playoff quarterfinals tie at the BK Arena on Monday.

The King’s Men, who were making their debut in the BAL playoffs, became the first-ever Nigerian team to progress to the semifinals of the tournament, where they will face Libyan side Al Ahly Benghazi, after the BAL debutants stunned defending champions Al Ahly of Egypt on Sunday.

The Hoopers, led by Will Perry’s 33 points, recorded their fifth win at the BAL this season, having previously won four times in the Sahara Conference, where they also faced US Monastir and shared the spoils in their two previous meetings in the group phase.

The Nigerian side, led by coach Ogoh Odaudu, needed a better second quarter, which they won 25-19 to take the lead after losing the first quarter 21-20. The second half began on the same note as the Hoopers took a 23-22 win in the third quarter.

The fourth quarter put fans of both teams on the edge of their seats as expected, and despite the King’s Men taking a 12-point lead with less than two minutes on the clock, Monastir fought hard with clutch 3-pointers. However, the Hoopers were wheeled to victory with vital free throws from Perry, who shot 11-of-12 from the line and was 4-of-9 from beyond the arc to go along with five rebounds, five assists, and four steals.

Kelvin Amayo, whose vital 3-pointer with 1:58 on the clock helped the Rivers Hoopers open a 10-point lead, finished with 18 points, six rebounds, and ten assists. Peter Olisemeka had an 18-point and 12-rebound double-double to go along with Devine Eke’s 16 points and 12 rebounds.

The Tunisians, who crashed out in the quarterfinal stage for the first time in their three BAL playoff appearances, were led by Marcus Crawford’s 31 points, nine rebounds, and four 3s.

Oussama Marnaoui added 22 points, four rebounds, and four assists; Ater Majok finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks; while George Williams (7) and Sadio Doucoure (14) combined for 21 points off the bench, with the latter also grabbing ten rebounds, in an enthralling encounter that went down to the wire.

Rivers Hoopers will be up against Al Ahly Benghazi on Wednesday, May 29, at the BK Arena for a chance to become the first Nigerian team to progress to the BAL final.

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