November, 17 2021.
By Bolaji Lawal.
Rivers Hoopers of Port Harcourt last night defeat Gombe Bulls for second time in as many matches to win the Nigeria Premier Basketball League Final-8, and claimed the sole ticket to represent Nigeria at the Basketball Africa League, in Rwanda next year.
Despite trailing at halftime, Hoopers uped the ante in the 3rd quarter and blew away a visibly tired Gombe Bulls side. Final Score 74-57 in favour of the Kingsmen.
When the two finalists met earlier in the tournament, a spirited Rivers Hoopers side also rallied from behind to edge Gombe Bulls 69-61, despite trailing until the end of Q3.
Earlier yesterday, Kano Pillars restored some of its battered image, when beating Nigeria Customs 82-64, to finish 3rd in the 2021 NBBF Final-8, which ended rousingly at the Indoor Sports Hall, in Package B.
Pillars came into the tournament with a strong team and was hoping to dethrone the champions, Rivers Hoopers but got dumped out by a well galvanized Gombe Bulls side, in a grudge semi-final that pitted the two Savannah Conference rivals against each other.
Lucky Subel led the haul for Pillars with 17 points, Yusuf Ibrahim contributed 16 and Chimobi Chinedu followed with 10. While 2 players, Precious Osigbodi and Bright Ahkuetie both scored 16 points. Francis Ajulofo weighed in 12 for Customs, who trailed with 30 points, as at the end of Q3.
Meanwhile, Youth and Sports Development Minister, Chief Sunday Dare was at the Indoor Sports Hall of MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja to Grace the Final-8, final.
Taking into account that the Super Eagles were in a make or mar Qatar 2022 World Cup Qualifier, against the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde, in Lagos; this represents a shift from the norm, and underlines the Minister's commitment, to restoring an NBBF weary of factional infighting since 2017 to a path of prosperity.