Rwanda: BAL – Rivers Hoopers Make History Despite Opening Day Defeat

The Hoopers had a promising start but fatigue and their recent inactivity ensured they lost steam

Rivers Hoopers, at the weekend, started their campaign at the Basketball Africa League (BAL) on a losing note, but they still set a record for themselves in the new tournament.

The Nigerian team were routed 83-60 by Patriots of Rwanda in the opening game of the Basketball Africa League at the Kigali Arena on Sunday. Although the Hoopers had a promising start, they struggled to adjust to the Patriots’ aggressive defence.

Taren Sullivan led the KingsMen with 15 points and six rebounds in the defeat.

Rivers Hoopers led at the end of the first quarter 18-17 but Hoopers’ dominance did not take long as Patriot’s Prince Ibeh showed class with some monster dunks, coupled with Brandon Costner’s impressive threes from beyond the arc.

Patriots led 26-16 at the end of the second quarter as Imeh scored a double-double-11 points and 11 rebounds, while Brandon Costner added 20 points, helping Patriots begin the BAL tournament with an impressive win.

Despite the defeat, Rivers Hoopers guard Ben Uzoh made history by being the first player to make the first basket of the Basketball Africa League. Patriots guard Kenneth Gasana, who contributed seven points and four assists, paid tribute to his team.

He said: “We played good inside, we limited a lot of inside points and we took advantage of the turnover that they had,” the Rwandan international said, adding that “it feels good to start the BAL with a victory.”

The next game for Rivers Hoopers will be against Tunisian side, US Monastir, on Thursday, May 20th at 4:30 pm Nigerian time. On their part, Patriots resume their Group A campaign on Tuesday, facing Madagascar’s GNBC, a team they beat twice in the BAL Qualifiers.

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