Rivers Hoopers and Raptors of Lagos will face off for the right to represent Nigeria at the inaugural edition of the NBA-FIBA Basketball Africa League when they take to the courts in the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium in the final of the 2019 NBBF organised President Cup National Final 8 on Sunday.
Home favourites Raptors defeated Niger Potters 84-81 to book their place in the final which will be live-streamed for the first time ever on the Youtube and Facebook pages of the NBBF from 2pm.
The Lagos side were aggressive in making their intentions clear from tipoff and didn’t let up as they amassed a 42-27 lead at the end of the first half.
Potters livened matters in the 3rd quarter winning by a slim 17-16 margin but Raptors quickly snuffed out any notions of an unlikely comeback with a 25-17 win to send home fans into rapturous delight.
Abel Offia scored 17 points, 2 assists and 7 rebounds while Akintoye Abiodun scored 16 points and 3 assists with Ebuka Innocent adding 15 points.
In the other semifinal, Hoopers beat Kwara Falcons 78-64 to set up a date with Raptors in the final.
Abdul Yahaya finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and one block in 26 minutes for Hoopers who are yet to taste defeat in the league this season.
Victor Anthony led Hoopers in scoring with a game high 16 points and added eight rebounds. Buchi Nwaiwu scored 11 points while Emmanuel Balogun added 10 points.
Mustapha Oyebanji (14), Tano Emuhowo (12) and Godwin David (10) reached double figures for Kwara Falcons.
Rivers Hoopers head coach Ogoh Odaudu shared his thoughts with Hooper’s media after the game.
“I knew it was going to be a difficult game; Kwara are well-coached [and] like I said earlier, Baba Jibril is my former teammate on the national team and at club level so I know what they can do. It is just that the talent level on my team surpassed what they had,” Odaudu said.
Addressing Sunday’s opponents in the final, Odaudu said he would leave nothing to chance against a team that has defied all odds to make the final ahead of more fancied sides.
“I am really impressed with the Raptors team they have surpassed all odds and reached the final. Nobody ever thought they would get this far. For a team like that to get to the final, it should tell you that they are a team not to be underrated,” he said.
In the classification games, Nigerian Army Rockets and Civil Defenders of Abuja served up a pulsating and drama-filled spectacle that extended into double overtime.
Both teams finished with 79 points apiece in regulation time before Rockets found an extra gear to squeak past Defenders 97-96 in second overtime after the first had ended with the scores tied on 89 points.
In the other classification game, Islanders ended their NBBF organised President Cup National Final 8 on a high defeating Benue Braves 80-73.