Basketball Africa League (BAL)

Basketball Africa League: Espoir Fukash stage big comeback to earn first win

Nile Conference action in the Basketball Africa League wraps up.

Rolly Fula, Djack Kabuya and Emmanuel Okorafor powered Espoir Fukash in an improbable comeback to close their Nile Conference campaign with a 96-92 overtime win against Cape Town on Tuesday night in Cairo.

Fula had a game-high of 29 points, Kabuya contributed 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Okorafor came up with 12 points and 14 rebounds to help Fukash fight back from a 22-point deficit to seal their first BAL win.

It was the first-ever BAL game to go to overtime.

Despite the win, the DR Congo champions finished last in the conference with a 1-4 mark.

Tigers opened the game with a 7-0 run, and led for 39:56 of the 45 minutes of the game.

With 14:3 seconds left, and with the game tied at 87-all, Kabuya missed two of his three free-throw attempts that could have closed the game out in the regulation.

In the inbound, Cape Town had their own chance to win the game, but Billy Preston turn the ball over, sending the contest to overtime.

With Jamel Artis out of the game since the second quarter due to an injury, and Nkosinathi Sibanyoni out due to an injury suffered in a practice session, Cape Town suffered another blow early in the extra five minutes.

Preston, who led Cape Town in scoring with 25 points, fouled out in the first minute of overtime to hinder the Tigers’ chances to stay in the game.

Tigers’ head coach Relton Booysen later admitted that individual plays badly affected the team to compete for 45 minutes.

Arsene Mwamba drilled a three-pointer with 21 seconds left to give Fukash a 94-92 lead before Kabuya increased their lead to 96-92 with an uncontested fast-break.

Pieter Prinsloo, who contributed 21 points and 11 rebounds, tried a layup in the waning seconds of the game, but Okarofor wasn’t prepared to allow it, swatting it out to secure the win.

Espoir Fukash’s deep rotation proved valuable for the Kinshasa-based team whose bench outscored Cape Town’s bench 73-14, the biggest disparity in the Nile conference.

Okarofor, BAL Elevate player, came up with another big performance.

The 17-year-old registered his third consecutive double-double off the bench to become the first Academy player to register such mark.

Cape Town advance to the BAL playoffs in May in Kigali and will take on the winner or the second-placed team from the Sahara Conference.