There were scenes of wild celebrations as Rivers Hoopers were crowned champions of the 2023 Nigeria Premier Basketball League after they defeated Nigeria Customs 77-57 to end the 2023 Premier Basketball League with an unbeaten record of 13 games.
Consequently, the KingsMen picked the ticket as Nigeria’s sole representative at the 2024 edition of the Basketball Africa League.
Earlier in the day, Gboko City Chiefs defeated Hoops & Read 80-70 to move temporarily on top of the league standings and opened up a three-way battle for the league title, with all of Gboko City Chiefs, Rivers Hoopers, and Nigeria Customs retaining the possibility of emerging champions.
The KingsMen approached the game with a strong mentality and went 14-4 inside the first five minutes of play in the first quarter, eventually seeing out the quarter 21-12.
Rivers Hoopers maintained the tempo as they took control of the game to finish the second quarter 38-27, and went into the halftime break with an 11-point lead.
The hosts had suffered a spectacular collapse in the third quarter during their previous games against Gboko City Chiefs and Hoops & Read, but with the league title and Basketball Africa ticket closer than ever, they were able to break their third quarter hoodoo as they dominated play to end the quarter 59-47.
The fourth quarter saw Customs come out fighting but for every question asked Rivers Hoopers had a fitting answer as the KingsMen took Customs to the cleaners with a 16-5 run in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter which finished 18-10 and the Rivers Hoopers held to wrap up a 20-point blowout.
The result sparked immediate jubilations as the vociferous home crowd who had shown tremendous support for the Hoopers throughout the Final Four tournament struggled to hold back their emotions.
Rivers Hoopers captain Victor Anthony Koko was instrumental in his side’s victory scoring a game high 23 points, 9 rebounds, with 10/13 shooting from the field and 3/3 from free throws on a night Hoopers enjoyed a 72.7% conversion rate from the line. Abel Offia added 15 points with three 3-pointers made in the 4th quarter. Olatoye Duro-Ladipo had 10 points.
For Customs, David Godwin led the scoring with 18 points, Abdul Yahaya had 14 points with an impressive 100% shooting record on the night (he converted all field goals and free throw attempts made), while Ibe Agu had 12 points.
The victory cemented Rivers Hoopers’ supremacy as the unbeaten Kings of Nigerian Basketball having gone through all phases of the league without tasting defeat.
President of the Nigerian Basketball Federation (NBBF), and chairman of the Rivers State Basketball Association, Engr Ahmadu Musa Kida was on hand to present Rivers Hoopers with the league trophy, alongside the Rivers State Commissioner for Sports, Barr. Christopher Green.
The celebrations will last a while, after which the KingsMen will focus on preparations for the 2024 Basketball Africa League where they will hope to put up a much better showing than their first appearance at Africa’s biggest club basketball fiesta during its inaugural edition.