The home side, Patriots Basketball Club, has become the first team to qualify for the Basketball Africa League (BAL) Quarter Finals after edging Madagascar’s Gendarmerie Nationale Basketball Club (GNBC) 78:72 in the Group A tie played at Kigali Arena, in Rwanda.
Patriots started slow and were on the chasing end throughout the first three quarters, before staging a comeback in the last five minutes in the paint to win the game by a 6-point difference.
This is not the first time that the Malagasy basketball club has given the Rwandan side a tough job.
During the BAL qualifiers played in Kigali, Patriots needed two-time buzzer miracles to defeat GNBC, thanks to Sedar Sengamba and Jean Victor Mukama’s masterclass back in December 2019.
“GNBC is a good team. Even during the qualifiers and the final game of the qualifiers. It's very hard to defend them. Thankfully, we won the game,” said Ndizeye Dieudonne, Patriots Small Forward who also featured in the BAL qualifiers against GNBC.
Ndizeye (13), Bush Wamukota (11), and Brandon Costner (16) are the only players to register double digit points to help Patriots overcome a stubborn GNBC.
Costner hit a crucial three-point in the last five minutes of the game to give Patriots the much-needed first lead in front of sizable home fans inside Kigali Arena.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game for us because GNBC had a bad result against US Monastir. But we managed to bounce back thanks to good defence and offensive game after the break,” said Patriots Head coach, Alan Major.
Coach Major admitted that his team was “a little surprised by the sense of urgency GNBC brought to the game. It's a lesson to us going forward.”
After losing two games, GNBC now need a miracle to progress to the quarter finals as one of the best losers.
“We led during three quarters, then 6 or 7 minutes [before the end of the game] I think we failed to manage the game, we rushed! But I am proud of the guys,” said GNBC head coach, Nantenaina Ranaivosoa.
In the next game of Day 4 matchups, Senegal’s AS Douanes takes on Clube Ferroviário de Maputo in Group C.
Meanwhile, the Wednesday night game between Egyptian side Zamalek 🇪🇬 and Algeria’s Groupement Sportif des Pétroliers (GSP) was postponed in what the BAL says is “in accordance with the league’s Health and Safety Protocols.”