The stage is set for the finals of the 2019 Zenith Bank Women’s Basketball League National Final 8 between two finals debutants.
Air Warriors had earlier defeated defending champions First Bank 62 – 61 to set up a final clash against MFM Queens who overcame 2015 champions, Dolphins 58-53.
FirstBank, who had won nine national titles, looked on course for another win as they took a 15-7 lead in the first quarter.
The Lagos club increased the lead to 32-23 points at the end of the second quarter and did not let up in the third quarter, extending their advantage to 49-36.
But the determined Air Warriors fought back from the 13-point deficit to tie 58-58 deep into the fourth quarter.
Air Warriors took the lead (60-59) for the first time with just 38 seconds left on the clock and held on for the narrow win before a hugely excited audience at the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium, Lagos.
Although the Elephant Ladies tied the game again at 61-61 with 30 seconds left, Air Warriors were undaunted and won by one point to reach their first final.
Speaking with the chairman, Air Warriors Basketball club of Abuja Solademi Abdulmajid, he was elated at the comeback of the girls to defeat the defending champions.
“We feel honoured, pleased to defeat the defending champions. It was a deserved victory as we came from 17 points down to come and defeat them.
“The inspiration starts from them and we made them believe that they were better than their opponents. Moreover, they (First Bank) were tired and told them to finish the job. And they didn’t want to disappoint me,” he said.
In the same vein, the Air Warriors captain, Blessing Emmanuel said the team put up a good fight and capitalized on the weakness of their opponents to get to the finals.
The final of the Zenith Bank Women Basketball League Final 8 will be played on Thursday at the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium, Lagos.
With the wins, Air Warriors, MFM Queens have guaranteed a spot each in the FIBA Africa Zone 3 Champions Cup qualifiers in Cotonou scheduled for 28 October to 3 November.