The 12-team Basketball Africa League opened its inaugural season on Sunday, and the first-ever game produced a clear-cut winner.
Patriots Basketball Club of Rwanda routed Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers Basketball Club 83-60 at Kigali Arena.
The key turning point for the Patriots occurred in the second quarter.
The Rwandan hosts trailed 18-17 after the opening stanza, then used a 13-0 spurt to grab moment and a commanding lead. During their pivotal run, center Prince Ibeh had two big slam dunks for the first four points of the second quarter. Ibeh finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks at Kigali Arena.
The Rivers Hoopers trailed 43-34 at halftime of the Basketball Africa League opener. (The BAL postponed its inaugural season from 2020 to this year because of the global pandemic.)
Basketball Africa League opener becomes a rout
The Patriots’ Kenneth Gasana gave his club its largest lead (81-52) on a driving layup with 3:25 to play in the fourth quarter.
After the game, Gasana said he was pleased with his team’s performance.
“We played good inside, we limited a lot of inside points and we took advantage of the turnover that they had,” said Gasano, who had seven points and four assists. “It feels good to start the BAL with a victory.”
For the Patriots, former North Carolina State forward Brandon Costner had a team-high 20 points. Shooting guard Dieudonne Ndizeye scored 13 points and hauled in six rebounds, while Aristide Mugabe added nine points.
Taren Sullivan paced the Rivers Hoopers with 15 points. Teammate Benjamin Uzoh finished with 12 points in the Basketball Africa League opener.