Rivers Hoopers have successfully defended their Nigeria Men’s Premier Basketball League title after defeating Gombe Bulls 74-57 in the finals of the Nigeria Basketball Federation Super Eight on Tuesday at the Package B of the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
The Port Harcourt based club had defeated Nigeria Customs 85-76 in the semi-finals while Gombe Bulls dominated Kano Pillars with a convincing 79-67 victory to reach the finals as well.
With this victory, Hoopers have secured their second straight appearance at the next edition of Basketball Africa League which will again be hosted in Kigali, Rwanda in 2022 and 2023.
Anaiye Johnson, Championship MVP, propelled Hoopers over the Bulls as he scored 12 points, collected 5 rebounds, 6 assists and had one block, and just as important as his 75 percent shooting from distance was crucial.
Accompanying Johnson stellar play was the contributions of players like Koko Anthony, who finished the game with 14 points, 10 rebounds while the duo of Ekuma & Oriakhi poured in 10 each in the win.
It was Bulls who lead after the opening quarter 22-16 but Ogoh Odaudu’s men came from behind to lead with five points 36-31 at Half time then followed by strong defense to see off Coach Abdulrahman Bulls.
Abubakar Yakubu game high of 18pts did little for the Bulls who ran out steam from the third quarter and also lost out on rebounds 39-45.
Meanwhile, Kano Pillars won the third place match after outscoring Customs 82-64 points.
Grabbing prestigious prizes and awards at the finale were Ben Akhutie of Nigeria Customs who was adjudged the tournament best rebounder, Owen Oriakhi of Rivers Hoopers scored the highest points, Abubakar Yakubu (Gombe) was the best three pointer while Kwara Falcons won the fair play award.
Hoopers duo of Anaiye Johnson & Owen Oriakhi together with Wisdom Anyaoha (Gombe), Ben Akhutie (Customs), Micheal Lordprince (Kwara Falcons) and were all selected as the championship best five in the event witnessed by the Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare, Daniel Amokachi, Ministry Officials and other stakeholders.