Nigeria Customs Men Basketball Club of Abuja defeated Gboko City Chiefs 83-78 to emerge champions of the Savannah Conference in Abuja on Saturday.
The ongoing Nigerian Basketball Federation (NBBF) Premier Basketball Men’s Final Eight Championships, Savannah Conference second phase finals, ended on Saturday in Abuja.
In their previous matches, Nigeria Customs had played five and won all matches with 10 points, while Gboko City Chiefs played five matches and won four and lost one with nine points.
The match between both sides was a keenly contested battle as Nigeria Customs extended their winning streak to six games and maintained an unbeaten record in the six matches.
In the first half quarter, Gboko City Chiefs got off to an early lead, 8-7, before the Nigeria Customs rallied back to tie the game and proceeded to 19-17 in the first quarter.
The Customs continued to dominate in the second quarter – 40-35. They played harder to secure the victory as they were losing 43-48 at the close of the third half of the game against the City Chiefs.
Nigeria Customs shot consecutive three-pointers stretch, the leading points.
The Gboko City Chiefs were left helpless and could barely do much to turn the game around.
They (Nigeria customs) fired up in the third quarter and held Gboko City chiefs to 61-51 points at the close of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Customs men maintained their winning efforts till the game ended 83-75.
This justified their high rating with unbeaten performance in the second phase of the ongoing NBBF event.
That was the last time the Gboko City Chiefs came close in the game.
After the match, the coach of Nigeria Customs, Mohammed Abdulrahman, said his team’s ultimate target was to pick the BAL tickets.
“We would try as much as possible as we can to pick the tickets. This win is just a great motivation to go and do better at the final four, but our ultimate is BAL tickets.
“It’s exciting to win all six games consecutively without a defeat, but there are lots of good teams out there that we are looking forward to playing against in the final four; for now, we are going to celebrate our victory.
“We shoot the ball well and play good defence, and that was what gave us the win today. But, we can aspire to do well before the commencement of the final four; we would be able to make adjustments,” he said.
On his part, the coach of Gboko City Chiefs, Fanen Lornem, said that it was a welcome development for his team to have qualified, in spite of the loss to Nigeria customs.
“We qualified to the final four in the league.”
He said it was not easy, but “we thank God for the performance. I give kudos to our new president of the club, Orseer Ikyaator, and who has been motivating and supporting the team to get to this stage”.
He said on the part of the management, “I don’t think that we are really satisfied with the performance of the players but just okay because this stage is a work in progress and with the quality of the team we have, I don’t see any team defeating us in Nigeria.
“Our target is to pick the tickets for BAL. We are not afraid of any team, we are going to reboot back.
“Our playing ground is Abuja and we will start to prepare for the Final Four scheduled from Nov. 19 to 26 in a yet-to-be-decided venue,” he said.
In other matches played, Gombe Bulls defeated Correctional Services 70-67, while Nile University defeated Plateau Peaks 68 – 50.
Abuja hosts the Savannah Conference second phase finals, while Akure hosts the Atlantic Conference; both events run concurrently.
The teams that participated in the Savannah Conference second phase finals were Nigeria Customs, Nile University, Kano Pillars, Bauchi Nets, Plateau Peaks, Gboko City Chiefs, Gombe Bulls and Correctional Services.
The winner of the 2023 NBBF Premier Basketball League will represent Nigeria at this year’s Basketball African League (BAL) slated for the BK Arena in Kigali, Rwanda.