All is now set for the final of the 2018 Kwese Premier Basketball League between Gombe Bulls and Kwara Falcons at the Indoor Sports Hall of the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano on Monday.
Bulls denied defending champions Kano Pillars from reaching the final following a 66-63 win in the semi-final while Falcons defeated Hoops & Read 78-76 to advance to their first ever final in the elite division.
Ibe Agu (16) and Wisdom Anyoaha (15) scored in double figures to hand Gombe Bulls a second straight final.
Pillars took a 2 points lead going to the break (33-31) but Bulls came back blazing in the second half as they scored (15-13) to tie the game 46-46 at the end of the third quarter.
Despite losing to Bulls, David Godwin and Abdul Yahaya finished on double figures, Yahaya had a double double-double 15 points and 12 rebounds while Godwin scored 13 points.
Pillars were poor on shooting 23/70 from the floor and 9 of 34 from the deep. The Sani Ahmed-tutored side almost snatched the victory with 17 seconds left on the clock 63-62, Gombe Bulls however held on to beat their arch rivals for the third time this season.
It is the second time in 10 years Kano Pillars have failed to reach the final of the Nigeria Basketball League. The last time it happened was in 2011 when Royal Hoopers (currently called Rivers Hoopers) beat them enroute their first title.
Meanwhile, Hoops & Read couldn’t make it to the final for the second season in a row after they lost to Atlantic Conference champions Kwara Falcons. Hoops are in their second season in the top flight division.
The Charles Osho’s side were on course to make history after an outstanding performance in the first half taking a 10 point lead to the break (41-31).
Hoops & Read fell apart in the third and couldn’t break down the resilient Falcons.
Mustapha Oyebanji scored 25 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists while Johnson Anaiye contributed 23 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
For Hoops & Read, three players finished on double figures as Victor Komombo led the way with 23 points, Jide Ogunsemore 13 points and 6 rebounds while David Edwards had 18 points and 7 rebounds.
They were out-rebounded by Kwara Falcons 52-39 losing 22 points as a result of 17 turn overs committed by the team.
The final of the Kwese Premier Basketball League takes place at 4pm in Kano after the third place game between Kano Pillars and Hoops &Read at 12pm.
It is expected that the two finalists represent Nigeria in the FIBA Africa zone 3 tournament as the usual practice. However, there is a different twist as ACLSports can confirm that the Musa Kida led-NBBF will be holding its league qualifiers for the FIBA Africa zone 3 tournament first week of November.
It is left to be seen if Gombe Bulls and Kwara Falcons would have to go through another qualifying tournament.