PHOTOS & VIDEO: Patriots complete historic comeback to retain league title

Steven Hagumintwari, who scored 8 points in Game 7, lifts the trophy aloft after Patriots edged REG 65-59 to retain the Bank of Kigali Basketball National League title at Kigali Arena on Saturday. / All photos by Sam Ngendahimana

Saturday - Playoffs finals (Game 7)

Patriots 65-59 REG

PATRIOTS were Saturday night crowned as the 2018/2019 champions of the Bank of Kigali Basketball National League after beating Rwanda Energy Group (REG) in a thrilling 65-59 Game 7 victory at Kigali Arena.

The Patriots staved off elimination twice to force Game 7 in the playoffs finals after REG went up 3-1. With the title defence success, Patriots confirmed their spot in the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) next year.

Arguably the most dominant side in local basketball since joining the league in 2014, Saturday’s improbable triumph marked the club’s third league title in the last four years as they became the first team to win the championship back-to-back since Espoir between 2012 and 2015.

Just like he had been throughout the playoffs finals, with his side rallying from a 3-1 deficit to cap off the season in style, Dieudonne Ndizeye was fantastic in Game 7, with the small forward posting a game-high 22 points and making 9 rebounds.

“What we have just accomplished is remarkable,” said Ndizeye.

“We were counted off (in the finals) at some point, but we refused to give up. It is that never-die spirit that pulled us through.”

Skipper Aristide Mugabe and Kenya-born power forward Michael Makiadi contributed 9 points each, while Steven Hagumintwari added 8 points, and made 9 rebounds.

Rwanda international Elie Kaje scored 13 points for REG, whilst guard Benjamin Mukengerwa added 12 points.

Patriots will now represent the country in the newly established continental club competition – Basketball Africa League – whose semi-finals and the final will be held at the Kigali Arena.

The highly anticipated tournament is a joint effort between the world basketball governing body (FIBA) and the NBA.

Past champions since 2010

2018: Patriots
2017: REG
2016: Patriots
2015: Espoir
2014: Espoir
2013: Espoir
2012: Espoir
2011: Kigali Basketball Club
2010: APR

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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