Ikechukwu, Balogun, shine as Rivers Hoopers return to summit


Benjamin Ikechukwu, Emmanuel Balogun and Somtochukwu Managor scored most of the points that took Rivers Hoopers back to the top of the Atlantic Conference of the Kwese Premier Basketball League.

They leapfrogged Kwara Falcons after a dominant 87-72 win over a difficult Hoops & Read side in Port Harcourt on Saturday.

Ikechukwu had 18 points, Balogun had 15 points and 3 rebounds while Managor added 11 points, 2 rebounds and 2 steals in a game the Hoopers had answers to every question posed by the opposition.

The Kingsmen had dropped to second spot in the Conference after a loss to Falcons late June but Saturday’s victory, coupled with Kwara Falcons’ loss at Nigeria Customs returned the Ogoh Odaudu men to their rightful position.

Ikechukwu continued from where he left off in the last game proving unstable recording 3 of 4 of his shots from the arc but could not replicate same number of points or more against NAF Rockets on Thursday.

It took the former Lagos Warriors guard the second quarter to get into his rhythm. Although, Hoopers had the spark of Balogun with his dribbling skills, recording 3 of his 6 shots from the 3 point line and making 100% of his free throws in the game. He was the only player with double figures at the end of the second quarter (10).

Hoops & Read were led by Kemionbo Victor with a game high 20 points and 3 steals, Oyebanji Mustapha recorded 12 points while Ogunsemore Babajide had 10 points and 5 rebounds.

Most notably with 6 seconds left on the clock, Chinedu Chimbuo failed to capitalize on a turned over ball on centre court by Anyebe Ujoh missing the layup before the buzzer going to the half time break.

Despite the composed display, Hoopers still could not hold their own in the third quarter like they have usually done this season losing it 21-25 but Ikechukwu’s 3-0 run late in the third, ensured the Port Harcourt side got into the fourth quarter domineering and eventually sealed the win limiting the visitors to just 17 points in the final quarter.

Hoops & Read coach, Charles Osho admitted that his team had a terrible game against Hoopers.

It was a nice game for Hoopers even though we had a bad day, terribly bad day,” he stressed.

“There was no organized play, we struggled from the beginning, we were not composed and it took me a while for me to decide on what to do. As you can see we came with less than 12 players for this road trip. It was a good game but we had a bad day,” Osho emphasized.

On his part, Hoopers head coach Ogoh Odaudu thought his side had improved overtime on their third quarter.

We came out with a resolution, if we don’t score, they wont score. We played better defense and we were executing a lot more. You look at the beginning of the season and look at the way we have played now you can tell that there is a considerable improvement in our third quarter performance,” said Odaudu.

We are still a work in progress, hopefully before we get to the play offs, we would have rectified anything that needs to be rectified, “Odaudu submitted

Rivers Hoopers will be up against Delta Force on Thursday and Nigeria Customs on Saturday this week in Port Harcourt.

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