Hubert Kabare Bugingo had 25 points and 14 rebounds as IPRC-Huye recovered from Sunday's opening defeat against APR to beat Espoir with a narrow 65-63 at Kigali Arena on Monday.
The defeat made it virtually impossible for Espoir to advance to the semi-finals of the new-format 2019/20 BK Basketball National League having also lost their first game, 77-48 to reigning champions Patriots, on Sunday.
Favourites Patriots, IPRC-Huye, Espoir and APR make Group B, while Group A comprises hopefuls REG, UGB, IPRC-Musanze and IPRC-Kigali. The top two teams in each group will advance to the semi-finals, which start on Thursday.
In Monday's win, IPRC-Huye fought back from a slow start to dominate Espoir in the second half and avoid a second successive loss as Bugingo starred with a stunning double-double, while Eric Muhayumukiza contributed 12 points to the win.
Former champions Espoir had taken an early 20-17 lead in the first quarter before extending it to 35-26 at half-time. However, the night belonged to Charles Mushumba's side who turned the tables to claim the final two quarters 17-16 and 22-12 to seal a comprehensive 65-63 victory.
Elsewhere in Group A, United Generation Basketball (UGB) won 77-55 over strugglers IPRC-South. By press time Monday, the last game of the day pitting REG against IPRC-Kigali was yet to get underway.
In the women's league, APR who lost to Ubumwe on Sunday, also lost their second game as dominant IPRC-Huye overpowered the army side 81-39, while Hoops Rwanda came from behind to edge Ubumwe 83-67.
"We were without three key players like Sandra Kantore and that really cost us," APR women basketball team's captain, Charlotte Umugwaneza, after her side's defeat, conceding that "IPRC were the better team."
"They trained throughout the pandemic and that was very evident in their performance today."
IPRC Huye 65-63 Espoir IPRC-Musanze 55- 77 UGB
APR 39-81 IPRC-Huye Hoops 83-67 Ubumwe