By Eric Olusesan
Rivers Hoopers on Tuesday defeated Gombe Bulls 74-57 in the Finals of the Nigeria Basketball Federation Final eight, giving Hooper’s the ticket to return to Basketball Africa League.
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.
Earlier in the third place match, Kano Pillars won the third place match, outscoring Customs 82-64 points to claim third spot.
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.