APR 111-50 30-Plus
Patriots 71-57 REG
Basketball league defending champions Patriots gave Rwanda Energy Group (REG) more reasons to improve their game after beating the debutants 71-57, thanks to their new signing Lionel Hakizimana who finished with 14 points including triple three-pointers from his first three attempts.
In-front of a fully packed Amahoro Indoor Stadium on Friday evening, the game as competitive as expected and the fans were not disappointed.
REG, under former Espoir coach Jean Bahufite, dominating the early exchanges in the first quarter and looked favorites to win the game thanks to contributions from former Patriots captain Ali Kazingufu Kubwimana and centre Bievenue Ngandu. The duo finished the game with 9 and 14 points respectively.
Patriots coach Henry Mwinuka was forced into an early change to save his side from what looked like a possible defeat by replacing Chris Walter Nkurunzinza with Hakizimana, who was playing his first game for his new club.
The former Espoir star made immediate impact dropping three consecutive three-pointers for which he received a standing ovation as Patriots got back into the game and claimed the first quarter 23-22 and the second 16-13.
However, Bahufite’s side did not give up and took the third quarter 19-11, which seemed to energize the defending champions, who recovered to win the fourth quarter 21-3. Patriots’s Sunny Niyomugabo scored a game-high 17 points and Junior Ambol added 16 points to lead their team to a 71-57 win.
“I think I have come with luck, I decided to join Patriots because I believe their style of play is compatible with mine and I also have a lot of friends here,” Hakizimana said after the game.
The win was Patriots’ second over REG in a space of three weeks after beating with a narrow 76-75 win last month 76-75 in the final of the pre-season tournament.