Rivers Hoopers emerge FIBA Africa Zone 3 Champions


Ugochukwu Iwuchukwu

Rivers Hoopers basketball club have emerged champions of the FIBA Africa Zone 3 Qualifiers after beating AS Police of Niger 55-34 points on Saturday in Cotonou.

Buchi Nwaiwu once again put up good numbers for Hoopers like other games in the competition. He made 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks while Solomon Ajegbeyi made a double-double, 17 points, and 11 rebounds.

The Kingsmen led from start to finish and kept a huge gap from the first quarter 18-2 which increased to a 26-point lead going to the last quarter. Police put up a good fight in the 4th, outscoring Hoopers 15-10 but it wasn’t enough to turn around the game.

Libidi Tankoano scored 10 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals for AS Police.

Hoopers won all five games against Civil Defenders (Nigeria), Custom Braves of Ghana, Elan Sportif (Benin Republic), Harbel Pointers (Liberia) and AS Police (Niger) respectively to finish unbeaten in the competition.

Buchi Nwaiwu who was awarded the most valuable player finished in the top 5 alongside Akpatchi Romario (Elan), Dividson Samuel (Harbel), Ijigba Joel (Defenders) and Ali Sulleman (Customs).

Romario was rated the highest scorer, Sulleman won the leader in block shots, Dodli Norberji of Customs was rated the leader in 3-points while AS Police Amadon Abelov was awarded the leader in steals and assists.

Rivers Hoopers, Civil Defenders and Elan Sportif finished first, second and third respectively to qualify for the FIBA AfroLeague in January 2019.

Head coach Rivers Hoopers pointed out some challenges his team encountered in the tournament.

“It was a great tournament and every game was difficult in its own way and we won’t say one was easier than the other. Every game had its own peculiar challenges. Today we faced some challenges in the second quarter, Police started playing us zone defense and the shots were not dropping because we had difficulty scoring but I am happy we came out victorious.”