FIBA Africa Zone 3 champions Rivers Hoopers unsurprisingly fell to an 88-59 defeat in their FIBA Africa Basketball League opener against hosts AS Sale of Morocco at the Salle Bouazzaoui, in Morocco on Friday.
The defeat was not unexpected for Hoopers who only arrived at the venue of their game from Nigeria just one hour to tipoff and they got off to a lethargic start trailing by 15 points after the first quarter. The deficit grew in the second quarter and they went in at halftime trailing by 23 points with the score at 24-47 in favour of the hosts.
Hoopers, however, rallied in the third quarter and although they matched their hosts’ scoring with 20 points, it proved too little to bridge the deficit against the defending champions who triumphed 88-59.
Precious Osigbodi led the scoring for Hoopers and was the only player to hit double figures for the Nigerians with 12 points in 26 minutes.
Moroccan international Abderrahim Najah led the way for AS Sale with 17 points and six rebounds. Najah proved unstoppable at both ends of the floor with 75% FG and 4/4 from the line.
Soufiane Rourodu shot 100% from the field finishing with 16 points, six rebounds, and four assists while Zakaria El Masbahi added 12 points. 2017 FIBA Africa Champions Cup MVP Abdelhakim Zouita had 11 points and Mohamed Choua added 10 points and nine rebounds.
Rivers Hoopers are next in action on Saturday against SLAC of Guinea who also lost their opening game 80-65 to JS Kairouan of Tunisia.