Rivers Hoopers are the champions of the 2021 Nigeria’s Men Premier Basketball League following their 74-57 defeat of Gombe Bulls in the final match of the Final 8 at the Indoor Sports Hall of Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja on Tuesday.
The victory earned ‘The KingsMen’ as the Port Harcourt side are fondly called automatic ticket to represent Nigeria at the Basketball Africa League (BAL) for second consecutive times.
Anaiye Johnson, most valuable player (MVP) of the tournament, propelled Hoopers to victory over the Bulls as he scored 12 points, contributed 5 rebounds, 6 assists and had one block, and just as his 75 percent shooting from distance proved crucial for Ogoh Odaudu’s men.
Accompanying Johnson’s stellar play was the contribution of players like Koko Anthony, who finished the game with 14 points, 10 rebounds while the duo of Ekuma and Oriakhi poured in 10 each in the win.
It was Bulls that took the 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’s game high of 18 pts 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.
Ben Akhutie of Nigeria Customs was adjudged the tournament best rebounder, Owen Oriakhi of Rivers Hoopers scored the highest points, Abubakar Yakubu of Gombe Bulls was the best three pointer while Kwara Falcons won the fair play award.
Hoopers duo of Anaiye Johnson and 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.