Spaniard Alvaro Masa’s game-high 26 points inspired Ferroviario de Maputo to an unlikely victory against Senegalese side AS Douanes in the ongoing Basketball Africa League (BAL) in Kigali.
Masa, 38, took matters in his own hands—for most of the 37 minutes that he spent on the court—to power Maputo to their first victory in BAL, a feat he described as a “historic victory” that he dedicated to the entire nation Mozambique.
The relentless Spaniard finished one rebound short of a double-double in his team’s 88-74 victory over a younger and more athletic Senegalese champions.
Masa has been outstanding since game one of BAL, also sinking in 24 points and 11 rebounds in a 71-55 loss to Egypt’s Zamalek on Monday.
“This is one of the greatest moments of my career. We knew that if we lost this game we would be on the way home, but now we can dream about a chance of continuing in this special event,” a visible emotional Masa said.
“This victory is for my Mozambican brothers and sisters.”
Two more of Maputo players recorded double digit scores in the paint to push for a lifeline victory.
Congolese Myck Kabongo recorded 20 points and a game high 12 assists in 37 minutes, Demarcus Holland contributed 19 points, while Ivory Coast player Adjehi Baru finished with a game high 11 rebounds and sunk 13 points.
During a post-game presser, AS Douanes’ Mamadou Faye, who led his team with 21 points, said that his team will learn from the loss.
“We will learn from our mistakes and make necessary adjustments ahead of the next game,” he said. “I believe that we still can advance to the knock-out round.”
AS Douanes head coach Mamadou Gueye admitted that anxiety played a role in his team’s loss to the Maputo club.
“My players were a bit nervous to execute our game plan. They missed a number of shots and that made them even more nervous. Yes, anxiety played a part in this result,” Gueye told reporters.
Ferroviario de Maputo and AS Douanes will resume their BAL campaign on Saturday, when they take on Algeria’s GSP and Egypt’s Zamalek, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Tuesday night tie between Algeria’s GSP and Zamalek was cancelled for what the BAL said is “in accordance with the league’s Health and Safety Protocols.” The game will be rescheduled at a later date.