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Victorious D’Tigress due in Abuja this Sunday

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BY MAXWELL KUMOYE

 Members of the all conquering and history making Nigeria senior female national basketball team, D’Tigress are due in Abuja from Kigali, the Rwandan capital this Sunday

 On arrival the history makers are expected to be received by top officials of the federal ministry of sports and basketball stakeholders to a rousing reception.

 On Saturday, Nigeria  become the first team to win four FIBA Women’s AfroBasket titles in a row over the last four decades thanks to an 84-74 win over Senegal in Kigali, Rwanda.

 Before Nigeria achieved this remarkable feat, Senegal was the last team to win four African titles in the 1970s stone age.

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 The victory is D’Tigresses’ sixth continental title, 20 years after they won their very first African diadem in 2003 in Maputo, Mozambique.

 D’Tigress under the stewardship of coach Rena Wakama reduced the effectiveness Senegal’s playmaker Cierra Dillard and used their shooting strength to dominate and navigate their way through the final of Women’s AfroBasket.

 Nigeria took off on a solid foundation and dominated the first and second quarters with a double figure margin of 12, 43-31. However, Senegal, the 11 time Champions closed the gap in the third quarter 62-57.

 The African champions regained control of the game, and closed it out superbly to tell and show the world that they rule women’s basketball in Africa.

 It was an all round master class show by D’Tigress as Ifunaya Okoro, hit 16 points, Elizabeth Balogun made 15 points, Sarah Ogoke added 13 points, and Munjanatu Musa hit a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds to contribute to the team’s victory.

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 Afrobasket Most Valuable Player, Amy Okonkwo contributed 14 points in sinking the hospitable Lionesses.

 Coach Rena Wakama was critized and some at first doubted her ability to lead D’Tigress to defend their African title are muted now as she becomes the first female head coach to win a Women’s AfroBasket title.

 After helping the team to rewrite the history of the slamming and dunking game in the continent, Amy Okonkwo, praised the role Coach Rena Wakama played in making it happen.

 “We have a coach that believes in us. It has us fighting till the end, even in adversity. So we knew we had our destiny in our hands. Even when Senegal came back, we knew we had to step up, to keep together and we made it happen.”

 On being named as the 2023 FIBA Women Afrobasket Championship MVP, Okonkwo has this to say: “I was playing in Mexico this summer, and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to come and lead. And I had the opportunity to lead the team. I told myself that I was not coming to Kigali to lose anything. And being MVP is a huge honour.”

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D’Tigress finished the championship without dropping a game, it was five over five and 24 games unbeaten run dating back to 2015 in Yaoundé, Cameroon. 

A very elated Wakama said the quarter final clash against Mozambique was the turning point of her Championship.

“Against Mozambique, we were down by 10 or 12 points. I looked into their eyes, and they told me: “Coach, we’re not going to lose this game. And they came back to win. That was the defining moment for me.”

Rena Wakama also revealed that, she was almost quitting the game of basketball but asked the sovreingn Lord of the universe if she should hold on for awhile. “It has been a long year for me. I asked God for a sign, and this trophy was the biggest of them all.”

Meanwhile, the President of Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF),  Musa Ahmadu Kida has congratulated the team for making the country proud.

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Kida said this victory is extra sweet because it was made in Nigeria all round, trained in Nigeria, coached by a Nigerian, dressed by a Nigerian apparel brand. 

“The success of the D’Tigress has again proved that the NBBF is ready, willing and will continue to tick the right boxes for the game of basketball to grow and flourish in the country.”

 He assured the team of more support and he also thank the Sports Ministry for supporting the team.

 Another member of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF),  Abba Abdulqadri Kaka,  said that the the victory is well deserved.

“We shall continue to do our very best as a Federation and with the support of the Federal Government and well meaning stakeholders we will lift the game in all aspect.” The chairman of the NBBF Division 2 League Management Committee, stated.

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Angola’s Petro De Luanda Wins 2024 Basketball Africa League Championship

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2024 Basketball Africa League (BAL) Champion Petro de Luanda (Angola) (Credit: BAL/Getty Images)

Petro de Luanda Becomes First Sub-Saharan African Team to Win BAL Finals (BAL.NBA.com); Libya’s Al Ahly Ly Forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. Named 2024 BAL Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year.
Angola’s Petro de Luanda this Sunday defeated Libya’s Al Ahly Ly 107-94 to win the 2024 Basketball Africa League (BAL) Championship, which took place at BK Arena in Kigali, Rwanda and reached fans in 214 countries and territories in 17 languages.  Petro de Luanda, the 2022 BAL runner-up and one of two teams to have participated in all four BAL seasons, is the first sub-Saharan African team to win the BAL Finals after previous champions from Egypt and Tunisia.
 
Following the game, BAL President Amadou Gallo Fall and President of FIBA Africa Anibal Manave presented Petro de Luanda with the BAL Championship Trophy and Al Ahly Ly forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. with The Hakeem Olajuwon Trophy for winning the 2024 BAL Most Valuable Player Award and The Dikembe Mutombo Trophy for winning 2024 BAL Defensive Player of the Year. 
 
Petro de Luanda went 5-2 during the Kalahari Conference group phase in Pretoria, South Africa, and the Playoffs, defeating Senegal’s AS Douanes and South Africa’s Cape Town Tigers in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively, to advance to the Finals.  Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers defeated the Cape Town Tigers 80-57 in the third-place game yesterday.
 
Lual-Acuil Jr. is also the 2024 BAL Scoring Champion and was named to the 2024 All-BAL First Team and All-BAL Defensive Team after leading Al Ahly Ly to a 5-4 record during the Nile Conference group phase in Cairo, Egypt, and the Playoffs, recording per game averages of 21.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks.
 
Several former NBA players attended games throughout the 2024 BAL Playoffs and Finals, including BAL Ambassadors and NBA Africa investors Luol Deng (South Sudan), Ian Mahinmi (France; ties to Benin) and Joakim Noah (grandfather from Cameroon); 2015 NBA champion Festus Ezeli (Nigeria), and New York Knicks President of G League Operations Pops Mensah-Bonsu (Ghana).
 
The BAL has also announced the 2024 Coach of the Year, Sportsmanship Award winner, All-BAL First Team, All-BAL Defensive Team, and Ubuntu Award winner.  The voting panels varied for each award and were comprised of fans, coaches, team captains, media, broadcasters, and scouts.
 
2024 BAL Coach of the Year
Rivers Hoopers head coach Odaudu Ogoh led his team to a third-place finish with a 6-3 record during the Sahara Conference group phase in Dakar, Senegal, and the Playoffs.
 
2024 BAL Sportsmanship Award
Rivers Hoopers point guard Will Perry received The Manute Bol Trophy for exemplifying the ideals of sportsmanship and camaraderie.  Perry was also named to the 2024 All-BAL First Team.
 
2024 All-BAL First TeamPositionPlayerTeamPoint GuardWill PerryRivers HoopersGuardSamkelo CeleCape Town TigersGuardChris CrawfordUS MonastirForwardJo Lual-Acuil Jr.Al Ahly LyForward / CenterAliou DiarraFUS Rabat Basketball  
2024 All-BAL Defensive TeamPositionPlayerTeamPoint GuardSouleyman DiabateAl Ahly LyGuardSamkelo CeleCape Town TigersGuardAbdoulaye HarounaAS DouanesForwardJo Lual-Acuil Jr.Al Ahly LyForward / CenterAliou DiarraFUS Rabat Basketball  
2024 BAL Ubuntu Award
AS Douanes guard and team captain Alkaly Ndour won the 2024 BAL Ubuntu Award in recognition of his ongoing efforts to use the game of basketball to positively impact the lives of youth in his native Senegal.  Ndour is the founder of “Kayelennioufo” (which translates to “Let’s have fun”), a basketball tournament for nearly 250 amateur players in his home neighbourhood of Bopp in Dakar.  Ndour was presented with the 2024 BAL Ubuntu Trophy during an on-court ceremony on May 25 in conjunction with Africa Day.

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Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers Advance to 2024 BAL Playoffs

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Five Hoopers players scored in double digits with Devine Eke (18 points, 18 rebounds) and Peter Olisemeka (17 points, 19 rebounds) dominating the boards 

 Nigeria’ Rivers Hoopers beat Rwanda’s Armée Patriotique Rwandaise (APR) 78-71 in the first-ever BAL (https://BAL.NBA.com) double-overtime game and became the first Sahara Conference team to clinch a spot in the BAL Playoffs which are set to tip off at BK Arena in Kigali, Rwanda on May 24.
 
Five Hoopers players scored in double digits with Devine Eke (18 points, 18 rebounds) and Peter Olisemeka (17 points, 19 rebounds) dominating the boards as well. Will Perry added 11 points and seven assists in a low scoring affair in which both teams shot less than 40 percent from the floor.    
 
Jean Jacques Nshobozwabyosenumukiza led APR with 16 points and five rebounds, while Dario Hunt finished with 15 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists. Going into today’s matchups, APR is currently second in the Sahara Conference and will look to secure a postseason berth when they take on Senegal’s AS Douanes (4th place with 2 wins and 3 losses) this evening.
 
In the second game of the day, the 2022 BAL champions Tunisia’s US Monastir kept their playoff hopes alive, defeating AS Douanes 75-69 and getting their second straight win in the competition. This is a turnaround for the Tunisian champions who started the Sahara Conference from three straight defeats, but now stand one win away from the postseason. Chris Crawford led Monastir with 18 points and seven assists, Oussama Marnaoui scored 16, and Firas Lahyani finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
 
Abdoulaye Harouna led the Douanes with 22 points, with Adama Diakhite adding 14 points and nine rebounds.
 
APR, AS Douanes and US Monastir will compete for the last two playoff spots when the Sahara Conference concludes this afternoon – Rivers Hoopers will take on US Monastir at 2:30 p.m. GMT and AS Douanes will face APR at 5:30 p.m. GMT.    

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Basketball Africa League (BAL).


Basketball Africa League (BAL)

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NBBF Final Four: We are In Port Harcourt to win, says Gboko City Chiefs

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Gboko City Chiefs making presentation to Chris Green

The General Manager of Gboko City Chiefs Basketball Club, Fanen Iornem says they are in Port Harcourt to win the NBBF Final Four championship.

Iornem, who stated this on Wednesday during a courtesy visit to the Rivers Commissioner for Sports, Barr Chris Green, stressed that the team was ready for any opposition.

He opined that Gboko City Chiefs have bonded together sufficiently and are in high spirits to overcome opposing teams and land the title.

According to him, “I will just tell straight forward that we are here to win; in as much as bookmakers might want to say anything, we are happy that everybody is looking at us like the 4th team because this is our second season in NBBF league but we are here to win with the calibre of the players we have, we have everything we need to succeed.”

On basketball in Nigeria, the GM said that the level was high but was quick to add that there is the need for more championships and longer period of playing to improve the game.

Reiterating the GM’s position, Team captain, Antibas Samaila and Centre, Bright Osagie Akhuetie both said they were ready to give their all and were not scared of any team

While welcoming the team to Rivers State, Chris Green expressed delight that the final four championship was taking place in Port Harcourt and assured that necessary facilities and associated logistics have been put in place to enable hitch competition.

While explaining that basketball was is first love in sports, he noted that the State would be making best of the final four championship to prove the dominance of Rivers Hoopers amongst other teams.

Said he: We have in place what is probably the best basketball court in Nigeria as at today. We have done everything possible to ensure a great atmosphere for everybody.

“I am happy that the final four is here. There will be a level playing ground for every team, let basketball be the winner. Rivers Hoopers is the home of basketball in Nigeria and we have always been winning. I want to welcome every team to Rivers State.”

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