BAL: Rivers Hoopers blowout US Monastir to maintain perfect record in Sahara Conference

BAL: D’Tigers Eke lifts Rivers Hoopers past AS Douanes in Sahara Conference

Nigerian champions Rivers Hoopers have so far made light work of the Sahara Conference tagged “Group of Death” as they secured an 84-63 blowout win over US Monastir at the Basketball Africa League (BAL) on Tuesday.

The King’s Men were extremely dominant against the Tunisian champions, and the victory at the Dakar Arena on Day 3 ensured they maintained their 100-percent start to the tournament, having won all three games so far.

Ogoh Odaudu’s men were too much to handle for their North African counterpart, as they won the first quarter 25-16 before securing a 20-point lead heading into the halftime break. Although Monastir cut it down a little in the third, the Nigerian side were relentless as they restored their initial lead and ended the game on a high note.

Former Stade Malien guard Kelvin Amayo was the star of the show for the Port Harcourt-based team, finishing with a game-high 30 points and six 3-pointers as he tied a team-high nine assists.

Amayo’s brilliance showed the squad quality of the Hoopers, who have had three different players lead the team in scoring in their three games so far: Devin Eke scored 31 points on opening day against AS Douanes, and Will Perry also erupted for 31 points against APR in Game 2.

Nonetheless, Perry (19 points) and Eke (13 points) continued their fine form at the BAL, as they made it three straight games with 10+ plus points with a combined 32-point performance. The former also added nine assists and four rebounds, while D’Tigers forward Eke grabbed 12 rebounds for his second double-double in three games.

Peter Olisemeka had 13 points and nine rebounds, while 6-foot-10 teenager David Ike, an NBA Africa Academy/BAL Elevate player, settled for four points and five rebounds.

Rivers Hoopers’ defence was impenetrable as they forced Monastir to shoot 37.9% from the field and 38.5 from the 3-point line, while they were 48.4% from the floor and a whopping 61.1% on threes. The King’s Men outrebounded their opponent 45-35, led the assist game 30-25, and got nine steals in an all-round solid offensive and defensive performance.

Sadio Doucoure led US Monastir in scoring with 21 points, five rebounds, and three 3s; Marcus Crawford starred with 17 points and a game-high 14 assists, as well as six rebounds and three 3s; and Firas Lahyani settled for nine points and four rebounds as the Tunisian champions lost their third straight game at the tournament.

Meanwhile, in the other game, Noel Obadiah scored 24 points as Armée Patriotique Rwandaise (APR) rallied from an eight-point deficit in the first quarter to stun conference hosts AS Douanes 66-61 to grab the second win of their BAL debut season.

The win puts the Rwandan side comfortably in second place; AS Douanes drop to third having suffered their second defeat of the competition; US Monastir are bottom with three loses; while the high-flying Rivers Hoopers are at the top of the Sahara Conference with a perfect record.

There will be another break on Wednesday before all four teams return to action on Day 4, Thursday, May 9, as the second round of conference fixtures begins: APR will tackle US Monastir again, while Rivers Hoopers will reignite their opening day rivalry against AS Douanes.

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