Nigeria’s sole representative in the ongoing Africa’s topflight club basketball competition, Civil Defenders Basketball Club are in Sale, Morocco to take on defending champions, Association Sportive de Sale in the Elite 8 second leg game of the FIBA Africa Basketball League on Friday.
Defenders who arrived at noon on Thursday in Morocco will hope to consolidate on their first leg performance when the game tips off at 18:00 GMT in Sale on Friday.
Civil Defenders held the defending champions to a 69-69 draw two weeks ago at the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium in Abuja.
Speaking to www.aclsports.com before their departure, Defenders head coach Paul Gombwer said they are going to Sale to pick a semi-final spot.
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“I think we will do better in Sale. It is our goal to reach the semi-finals and I was happy their number 4 player (Abderrahim Najah) their scorer didn’t come to Nigeria. I am hoping he doesn’t play this time around in Morocco and if he doesn’t, I am sure we have the advantage and we will surprise everyone.”Gombwer enthused.
Defenders were resilient in the first half of the first leg but saw their lead cut down in the third quarter as 2017 MVP Abdelhakim Zouita led Sale at both ends of the floor which eventually ended at 69-all in Abuja.
Defenders forward, Ocheibi Okpe had the opportunity of winning the game for Defenders with less than 4 seconds on the clock but missed the two free throws awarded after Zouita fouled him in the paint.
Gombwer had a sober reflection on the first leg in Abuja hoping his team had won the game.
“It was a good game despite not training well after we returned from the last qualification in Cotonou because of unpaid allowances. I had to make do with the ones who would give me the result so they had to be overworked. I saw no reason why Ocheibi missed those free throws. I’ll attribute it to fatigue and rustiness.
“I know he (Ocheibi) was tired because he was overworked but I was trusting he would go ahead and score them. Anyway, I see it as a learning process for us,” Gombwer added.
Gombwer revealed that their unpaid allowances has been sorted before their departure to Morocco.
The winner of this game will join 8-time champions Primeiro de Agosto and Smouha in the last four of the FIBA Africa Basketball League.