Somto Managor led two Hoopers in double figures with a game high 17 points as Rivers Hoopers routed Nigeria Customs 78- 50 on Thursday in Port Harcourt.
Managor added 4 rebounds and a block while former Custom star Solomon Ajegbeyi and Ronald Alalibo both contributed 12 points each with 5 and 3 rebounds respectively.
The former champions did more of the job in the first half outscoring their Lagos opponents with as many as 50-22 limiting them to just 10 points in the second quarter. At the half time break, the KingsMen led with as many as 28 points, building a huge gap for the visitors to overturn.
Disappointingly, both sides were poor in three point range with Hoopers making 7-of -25 shots from the arc while Customs could only make 1- of -15 from the arc.
The only time the visitors led in the game was in the opening quarter 2-3 with 8:32 minutes remaining and 4-5 with 5:58 minutes left to play.
Despite scoring just 4 points with 2 of 10 of his shooting, Hoopers guard Friday Haruna was able to wow the crowd with 4:14 remaining in the second quarter keeping them on their feet with a loud ovation. After taking advantage of a turned over ball from the center jump circle, Dike’s shot was blocked by Haruna when the crowd thought he had gotten the bucket.
Michael Okiki who could not be guarded in the reverse fixture in Lagos scoring 25 points, managed to score 13 points adding 5 rebounds while Seun Akinwale (12 points) and Solomon Igho (10 points) also had double figures.
The second half was less captivating but not without tensed emotion, tempers flares from the two sides, serial misses and turn over. Though the Port Harcourt side had a disappointing third quarter, losing 15-19 to Customs, all of that counted for nothing.
Rivers Hoopers coach, Ogoh Odaudu is excited to fulfill the pledge he made before the game against Customs.
“You can tell that the game was different from the one we played against them in Lagos. We took note of the errors we committed and did a lot yesterday (Wednesday) to work on those errors and it worked well for us,” said Odaudu.
Customs guard, Michael Okiki who scored 25 points against the Port Harcourt side in Lagos on match day 1 could not replicate his previous performance.
The Benue-born coach said he found a solution for Okiki which he didn’t have in the reverse fixture.
“They say if a dog bites you once, and bites you twice, then something is wrong with you. Okiki scored 25 points against us in Lagos and if we had let him score as many points against us, that means we are a really bad team. We had our game plan against him and it worked for us.” Odaudu concluded.
Customs coach, Scott Nnaji also gave his thought on the game and why his team played poorly against Hoopers.
“It was a good game they came out to win because they lost the last one to us in Lagos and so they were determined to win this one. We finished the first round before everyone else and we have been off for two weeks before today’s game.
Customs traveled with just 10 of their players to Port Harcourt and Nnaji disclosed that the team is being faced with some challenges which they hope to overcome soon.
“Because of some other constraints, we had to leave them behind. Also, to manage the players, injuries and make sure we go all the way to the Finals.” Nnaji said.
Rivers Hoopers will next play Police Baton on Saturday in Port Harcourt.