Basketball Africa League (BAL)

Basketball Africa League wraps up Day 2 of action with close contests

The Basketball Africa League continues as US Monastir (Tunisia) takes on Clube Ferroviario de Berra (Mozambique).

BAL Day 2

Union Sportive Monastirienne 77, Clube Ferroviario de Berra 71

Ferroviario da Beira did many things right for most of the 40 minutes of the game against US Monastir, but stopping Ater Majok proved to be a challenge for the ages.

Majok was the x-factor for US Monastir to start their Sahara Conference campaign with a 77-71 triumph on Sunday at Dakar Arena.

Ater Majok led the way for US Monastir with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

And, as much as the Mozambican champions switched, made adjustments to contain the Sudan native, the former Los Angels D-Fenders center responded with sublime plays at both ends of the floor.

“He is not just a big guy. He is mobile too,” said Helton Ubisse who looked helpless to contain Majok who was 8-for-9 from the field to finish with game-highs 19 points and 12 rebounds.

Tunisian international player Firas Lahyani finished with 15 points and Michael Dixon added 14 for the runners-up of the inaugural season of the BAL.

It was a balanced contest that could have gone either way with US Monastir and Ferroviario da Beira registering 11 lead changes.

The Beira-based team converted 9 of their 21 3pts attempts while Monastir could only hit the net from behind the arc in 3 of their 19 attempts.

To avoid what would have been a major upset in the Sahara Conference, Monastir head coach Modrag Perisic took advantage of their taller and heavier line-up to outscore their opponents 38-26 in the painted area.

William Perry and Jermelle Kennedy finished with 17 points apiece for Beira, Ismael Nurmamade added 11 points, but Majok’s game-high 4 blocks proved too much for Beira to handle.

“We tried everything we possibly we could. When we tried to double-team him, he managed to move the ball and found an open man. His physique ang agility caused us too many problems,” admitted Beira Head Coach Luis Hernandez.

“I am just happy that he has returned to Monastir for a second season,” admitted Lahyani.

“He has been with our team for the past year or so, and he was huge for us in the BAL last season. His presence in the paint makes things so easy for our team.”

“It wasn’t an easy win. I can assure you because Beira hassome good shooters,” noted the man who is  also known as “Air Tunisia” due to his athleticism.

When asked about the addition of the new players, Hernandez and Kennedy were unanimous to admit that it’s going to take time for them to adopt the teams’ philosophy because this was their first game together.

“They are all a great pieced to  our team, and I am sure that they will provide a great support to us in our next games,” Hernandes noted.

Beira new players Prince Orizu and Randy Onwasor combined for 15 points, with the latter contributing 7 massive rebounds.

Rwanda Energy Group 91, Association Sportive de Sale 87

Watch the full game below.

Rwanda Energy Group (REG) trailed for most of Sunday’s first Sahara Conference game against Association Sportive de Salé of Morocco, but once they turned the game around, they never looked back.

 Jean Jacques Nshobozwabyosenumukiza came off the bench to play the hero role after giving his all at both ends of the floor.

The 23-year-old guard not only kept AS Salé leading scorer Terrell Stoglin out of his comfort zone for most of the third quarter, but he also buried the game winning three-pointer with a minute left to help BAL debutant REG upset the former African champions.

Nshobozwabyosenumukiza finished with a 4-for-10 shooting to go with 13 points and 6 rebounds in 21:48 minutes on the floor.

Jean Jacques Nshobozwabyosenumukiza was big off the bench for REG.

“It was a very important win because it was the very first BAL game for us. Our team was hungry to get this win. We did a great job as a team,” said Nshobozwabyosenumukiza.

When asked about the challenge of facing Stoglin, the 1.85m (6ft 1in) guard said: “It’s not easy [to defend Stoglin], he is bigger, he has some moves, he can shoot, he can penetrate, but I am a good defender too. I had to make sure that he doesn’t score on me.”

Cleveland Thomas Jr. helped REG with 26 points, and Anthony Walker was sparked the Rwandan champions with 21 points and 8 rebounds.

REG Adonis Filer established a new BAL record with 14 assists, and contributed 14 points and 4 steals.

“It’s a great confidence booster,” he said of the win.

“[Kigali] That’s our ultimate goal. We are taking it game by game, and we took our business against AS Salé.”

Despite the win Adonis admitted: “We needed to get better on defense. They made a lot of threes, especially in transition. We had time to make some adjustments; Coach pointed out a lot of our mistakes and we sorted it out.” Although AS Salé led by as many as 11 points at some stage in the game and they headed to the locker with a 48-46 lead, REG never panicked, and an aggressive defense in the second half of the game proved crucial for the Kigali-based team.

“The key to our win tonight was our defense,” said REG head coach Robert Pack.

“Once we started to limit their transition baskets and locked in the half-court defense we were able to get some easy baskets,” the former NBA player explained.

“It’s really big,” Pack went on saying when asked the significance of the win. “We didn’t have our guys together for a long time because a lot guys were playing national team ball. So, in a short period of time, the guys were able to really come together, worked hard, we sorted somethings out. We really needed to get this first game, figure out who we are and finish the tournament on a strong note.”

Stoglin, who established a record for most points scored in a game (40) last season, finished with a game-high 32 points. Former Ferroviario de Maputo star Alvaro Masa scored his 13 points in the first half, but saw no playing time in the last quarter.

“We need to clear out a couple of things, we had a couple of bad possessions, but we need to create more situations to be able to score,” said AS Salé guard Abdoulaye Harouna who finished with 9 points.

“I don’t think it was a mental lapse,” Harouna replied when asked how AS Salé allowed REG to stay in the game even when the Moroccans seemed in total control of the game and had a double digit lead.

“It’s just our first game. Losing the first game hurts, we didn’t want to be in that position, but anything is still possible. You can lose the first game, and win all remaining games. We still have four other games, and we want to be qualified,” the Nigerien, who played for Cameroon’s FAP in the inaugural season of the BAL, noted.

Check out stats and schedule below.