PATRIOTS Basketball Club have qualified for the Basketball Africa League (BAL) 2020 regular season unbeaten after winning all their nine games in the qualifiers.
The Rwandan champions wrapped up their campaign with an emphatic 94-63 victory over GNBC of Madagascar in the final of the second round qualifiers at Kigali Arena on Sunday.
The victory improved their run to a perfect 9:0 win ratio, having won all their four first-round games in October, in Tanzania, and five games at the just-concluded second round.
Youngster Jean-Victor Mukama scored a game-high 18 points and, made 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals as Francis Odhiambo’s side proved too strong for GNBC at a packed-to-full-capacity Kigali Arena.
After a very close and reserved game in the first quarter, which ended 16-15 in favour of the home side, Patriots looked a completely different side in the next three quarters, but so were the Madagascar giants. Patriots were organised and confident, while GNBC seemed tired and satisfied for having made it to the final.
But, understandably, GNBC reached the final after a tightly fought 94-90 win over Ferroviario in Saturday’s semi-finals, whereas Patriots overpowered City Oilers 81-59.
For his consistency and strong performances since last Tuesday, Mukama was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament.
Canada-based Mukama joined Patriots this month as one of the four signings the club made to beef up their squad, along with Kenneth Gasana, George Wilbert Blakeney Jr and Adarius Lamar Pegues.
At the final whistle, President Paul Kagame, who attended the game, congratulated both finalist teams before waving goodbye to the 10,000 spectators inside the arena.
The Head of State watched three of Patriots’ five games in the competition.
Ferroviario secure final ticket
In the meantime, Mozambique side were the third and last team from East Division to secure their ticket to the BAL 2020 finals tournament after beating City Oilers 74-57 in the third-place playoff.
Following the climax of the week-long qualifiers in Kigali, the inaugural BAL season has now confirmed its final line-up of 12 teams that will be vying for the continental crown as the first Basketball Africa League champions.
The tournament gets underway in March 2020.
Full 12-team list:
AS Douanes (Senegal), AS Police (Mali), AS Sale (Morocco), GNBC (Madagascar), Union Monastir (Tunisia) Zamalek (Egypt), GSP (Algeria), FAP (Cameroon), Petro de Luanda (Angola), Ferroviario (Mozambique), Rivers Hoopers (Nigeria) and Patriots.Follow https://twitter.com/NkotanyiDamas