Kano Pillars and Gombe Bulls have emerged finalists of the 2017 Kwese Premier Basketball league final 8 in Kano.
Kano Pillars were the first to make it to this year’s finals following their 69-59 points victory over Atlantic Conference winners, Kwara Falcons on Thursday. Later in the day, Gombe Bulls halted Hoops & Read from advancing to the finals with a 78-77 win over the new boys.
Despite not been in their best form against Falcons, champions Kano Pillars did enough to pick the first slot to the continental championship. The usual suspects, who have contributed to the team’s run in the tournament, didn’t fail to come to the party. Abubakar Usman made 24 points and 7 rebounds, Dele Ademola added 11 points and 8 rebounds, Eli Abraham scored 10 points and rebounds while Nwafor Joseph made a double-double, 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Mojubaoluwa Oyeleye led the Falcons with 18 points and 4 rebounds while Rotimi Gbenga added 7 points and 11 rebounds.
Pillars were not at their usual best turning over the ball 38 times, making 8/32 from the arc and missed 7/20 of their free throws. Falcons were also guilty in the number of turnovers made (26) and shot only 2 of 17 from the 3 point range.
Meanwhile, Hoops & Read almost caused an upset on Gombe Bulls with a point lead going into the break 45-44. They returned to the court for the third quarter high on confidence leaving Bulls to do the entire chase but eventually tied the game at the end of third quarter (61-61).
Kator Gar and Sylvanus Yakubu made a double-double, 15 points and 11 rebounds respectively while Akeem Sulaiman added 11 points for the Bulls.
Two Hoops & Read players were on double figures in the game. Bolaji Emilagba with 18 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists while Mustapha Oyebanji contributed 27 points and 4 rebounds.
It was a painful loss for the league’s new boys who had a chance of snatching the victory but were let down by their inexperience late in the game.
With 18 seconds left on the clock, Emilagba had a chance to drive into the paint but rather made double steps to shoot a 3 pointer which didn’t get into the basket as the buzzer signalled game over for the lads.
As a result, Kano Pillars and their closest rival, Gombe Bulls will slug it out for the trophy and a sum of 20million naira. The runner up will take home 15million naira. Both teams have also qualified for this year’s continental championship. While Kwara Falcons and Hoops & Read will battle for 10million naira in the third place game on Saturday.