Home Sports Hoopers suffer narrow loss to AS Douanes

Hoopers suffer narrow loss to AS Douanes

DIAMNIADIO, SENEGAL - MAY 9: Kelvin Amayo #13 of the Rivers Hoopers Basketball Club dribbles the ball during the game against the Association Sportive des Douanes on May 9, 2024 at Dakar Arena in Diamniadia, Senegal. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2024 NBAE (Photo by Julien Bacot/NBAE via Getty Images)



Rivers Hoopers fell to an agonizing defeat against hosts AS Douanes in their fourth game at the ongoing Sahara Conference phase of the 2024 Basketball Africa League (BAL), with the Senegalese edging the Nigerian Champions 56-54 at the Dakar Arena on Thursday.

Rivers Hoopers had enjoyed a perfect 3-0 record to start the Sahara Conference and entered the contest as the only unbeaten team at the Dakar Arena, but found a spirited AS Douanes side buoyed by a raucous home crowd too difficult to handle.

The 2023 BAL runners-up, AS Douanes, who entered the game off the back of a 66-61 loss to Rwanda’s APR, desperately needed a win to boost their chances of reaching the playoffs in Kigali, Rwanda, and started brighter, taking a 14-5 lead at the end of the first quarter as the KingsMen struggled to get going.

However, the Nigerian Champions seemed to find their groove in a much improved second quarter, scoring 21 points to AS Douanes’ 19, reducing the deficit to 7 points at halftime, with AS Douanes leading 33-26.

The Rivers Hoopers continued their fightback and dominated AS Douanes with a combination of good defense and impressive shot making in the third quarter, erasing a 7-point deficit to lead the game for the first time, ending the third quarter with a 1-point advantage at 41-40.

With the difference at just one point between the sides, the fourth quarter was filled with intense competition and finished with some drama.

With 3 minutes to the end of the fourth quarter and Rivers Hoopers leading 48-47, AS Douanes guard Amadou Harouna unleashed a 3-point jumper to put the home team ahead by two.

The Senegalese went on to lead 54-52 but committed consecutive technical fouls with 15.1 seconds left, handing Rivers Hoopers a lifeline, which Will Perry duly converted to tie the game at 54-54 with 3.1 seconds left.

With the game poised to head into overtime, the AS Douanes bench called a timeout and produced a masterstroke. 2023 BAL Coach of the Year, Mamadou Gueye, replaced Ibrahima Thomas with Mike Fofana, and it was Fofana who proved to be the game winner, scoring the decisive points, when he beat the buzzer with a jump shot just inside the perimeter to send the crowd into a frenzy as AS Douanes edged the KingsMen 56-54.

In a day of uncharacteristically low shooting efficiency by the Hoopers, Peter Olisemeka proved to be the shining light, as he finished with a double-double of 16 points and a massive game-high of 18 rebounds, along with 3 steals and 3 blocks. Will Perry put up 17 points with 100% shooting from the free throw line (8/8), along with 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 3 steals. Kelvin Amayo had 11 points and 6 rebounds, while Devine Eke only managed 6 points and 7 rebounds.

Overall, the KingsMen only managed a 27% accuracy from the field and shot 6/32 from 3-point range, while also suffering 20 turnovers.

The result means no team from the Sahara Conference is guaranteed a ticket to the BAL playoffs in Kigali, Rwanda, just yet, as US Monastir got their campaign off the ground with an 83-70 victory over Rwanda’s APR after suffering three straight defeats.

Despite the loss, Rivers Hoopers maintained top spot on the Sahara Conference standings and will look to clinch their playoff berth when they take on Rwanda’s APR on Saturday, 11th May, by 3:30pm.





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