Ikechuku Benjamin led the way with 16 points, one rebound, one assist and one steal including scoring 3/4 from the free-throw line in 18 minutes.
Solomon Ajegbeyi added 14 points, eight rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block. Ajegbeyi also shot a rare three-pointer late in the game as he was cheered by his teammates on the bench. Other Hoopers’ players with double digits include Ronald Alalibo, who had 12 points, five rebounds, two steals and one assist. He also shot 4/8 from the deep while Abdul Yahaya added 10 points, four rebounds, one assist and one steal.
Rivers Hoopers were without a point in the first three minutes of the game but found their rhythm midway through the second quarter as they took a 22-point lead at half time but not without a huge number of turnovers (10). The lead was stretched to 30 points in the third quarter as the two-time league champions gave more minutes to their bench players.
The 2018 FIBA Africa Zone 3 champions benefited 22 points from the 20 turnovers committed in the game.
Ondo Raiders had no player in double figures and were out-muscled in the paint 14-38, out-rebounded 36-68 and scored fewer points from the bench 16-61.
After the game, Hoopers assistant captain Ronald Alalibo attributed their slow start to match rustiness.
“The team have been preparing for this task but inasmuch as we prepared we were match rusty at the beginning of the first quarter and the second quarter. It was much of a struggle for us but towards the end of the second quarter we picked ourselves up and we took it from there. I hope we get better going forward.”
Rivers Hoopers will next play Benue Braves at 2pm on Tuesday.
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