Rwanda's Patriots Basketball Club (PBC) Sunday defeated Nigeria's Rivers Hoopers 83-60, in the first game of the historic inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL).
Patriots, which started the game as underdogs found themselves trailing River Hoopers by nine points in the first five minutes of the first quarter before the home side turned around the game towards the end of the first quarter which they lost 17-18.
The Rwandan side never looked back, winning subsequent quarters (26-16), (22-10) and (18-16) for a 83-60 win at the buzzer.
During the post-match presser, River Hoopers' Ben Uzoh, a former NBA Guard said that his team will do "whatever it takes" to progress from a very difficult Group "A", that features Tunisia's US Monastir and the Malagasy basketball club, GNBC.
"Despite the results, I am very pleased with the inaugural BAL that is a source of inspiration and a dream global platform for the next African basketball stars," Uzoh added.
For the Rwandan side, they are taking one step at a time, according to their star performer, Ndizeye Dieudonné.
"We worked hard for this victory. Playing in the BAL is a dream and we are staying grounded, taking one game at a time and see how far we can go," Ndizeye said.
Hosted at the state of the art Kigali Arena, a 10,000 seater stadium, the BAL is the first-ever Pan-African professional basketball bringing together 12 best clubs from across Africa for a month-long tournament that will decide the continental champion, at least the next year.
The BAL, a brainchild of the NBA--Fiba partnership, is a project that has been in the making for over 10 years, but a shortage of modern infrastructure, and then Covid-19 among other issues delayed the tip-off of the inaugural season.
The season was initially scheduled to tip-off in March 2020 in Dakar, Senegal, but was postponed due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.
But it's finally here, despite being held under strict health guidelines with players being accommodated in the NBA-like bubble limiting external contact.
While speaking at the opening ceremony of the Basketball Africa League, the BAL President, Amadou Gallo Fall described the moment as "an incredible feeling making history today with the launch of the Basketball Africa League".
Amadou added: "The BAL is a culmination of decades of work that is now delivering a complete pathway for basketball development from grassroots to elite. From this day forward young players from the African continent can start and finish their development curve without having to leave Africa."
Millions of people from at least 215 countries across the globe, tuned in to follow the first-ever game of the Basketball Africa League (BAL), according to the figures from BAL officials.