BAL: Rivers Hoopers lose to AS Douanes, suffer first defeat in Sahara Conference

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

Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers were handed their first defeat in the Sahara Conference of the Basketball Africa League on Thursday, following a 56-54 loss to hosts AS Douanes.

With less than four seconds on the clock in the fourth quarter, the King’s Men were undone by a game-winning buzzer-beater by Douanes’ Mike Fofana, with the game on the brink of heading into overtime at the fully-packed Dakar Arena in Senegal.

The hosts started the game on the front foot as expected, having lost their last game to Armée Patriotique Rwandaise. They took the first quarter 14-5, but the Hooper won the second (21-19) to reduce the deficit to seven points heading to the halftime break.

Some defensive adjustment by Rivers Hoopers’ coach Ogoh Odaudu turned the tie in the direction of the Nigerians as they won the third quarter 15-8 to take a one-point lead into the final round.

The two teams traded buckets after buckets, but AS Douanes got in front with a four-point lead with less than two minutes to play. A foul on Will Perry and Peter Olisemeka and a technical foul called on Dounes’s Adama Diakhite helped the Nigerian champions draw level with 3:19 second on the clock.

AS Douanes head coach Mamadou ‘Pabi’ Gueye called for a timeout and the ball was moved up the court for the final action of regulation time. Fofana, who was 2of 5 on floor at that moment, got the ball inside the arc before pulling up to sink a two-pointer on the Hoopers, securing the victory for the conference hosts.

The King’s Men were led by Will Perry’s 17 points and five assists. Peter Olisemeka impressed the most with 16 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks; Kelvin Amayo ended with 11 points and six rebounds; and Devine Eke didn’t get going as he settled for just six points and seven rebounds for the Hoopers, who got just four points off the bench from their substitutes.

Meanwhile, Madut Akec scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds for AS Douanes, to go along with Harouna Abdoulaye’s 15 points and three 3s. Diakhite added 12 points, and game-winner Fofana finished with six points and six rebounds.

Earlier in the day, 2022 BAL champions US Monastir registered their first victory of the tournament with an 83-70 win over Rwanda’s APR, thanks to Marcus Crawford’s game-high 31 points and six 3-pointers.

Despite their comfortable win, the Tunisians remain at the bottom of the conference with a win and three losses. APR are second with two wins and two defeats; AS Douanes are third with a similar record; and Rivers Hoopers remain at the top with three wins and one loss.

The teams will take a rest on Friday before returning to action this weekend: On Saturday, Rivers Hoopers will take on APR, and AS Douanes will battle US Monastir; while on Sunday, the final of the conference, the Hoopers will face US Monastir before Douanes lock horns against APR.

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