Rivers Hoopers had their 7 game unbeaten run halted by Atlantic Conference rivals, Kwara Falcons losing 74-70 points in Ilorin on Thursday.
Emmanuel Balogun scored 18 points, Solomon Ajegbeyi added 15 points while Ikechukwu Benjamin finished with 12 points as Hoopers sustained their third loss to Falcons this season 3-1.
The Port Harcourt team failed in their attempt to become the first side to beat Falcons on home court this season despite their flying start to the game. The KingsMen put up a better performance than they did in the last 2 games against the Ilorin based team.
Kwara Falcons got back their rhythm in the second quarter equaling the points twice. Both sides were tied 6 different times at one point or the other in the game.
The host who were outscored in the first quarter (12-18) came out blazing in the second half and had solution to everything thrown at them by Hoopers.
Falcons however stretched the lead with 1:11 seconds remaining and eventually ended the third quarter (60-49).
With 3:09 left on the clock, Hoopers made a 4-0 run to reduce the deficit to one point (66-65). It was indeed a tough battle in the last 60 seconds which recorded a lead change and the game tied twice.
Ikechukwu made a layup that tied the game at 70 with 42 seconds left. He was later awarded a foul and that made the big difference for the host to capitalize on.
All plans to run away with the victory were dashed as the host made 4 points including a pair of free throws with less than 9 seconds to go and Falcons rallied for a victory.
Coach Ogoh Odaudu was impressed with his team’s performance despite losing to Falcons.
“I can categorically tell you that I was impressed with how they played. They came out with the kind of defensive intensity that I have never seen before this season. It shows that we are really making progress towards the final 6. Win or lose, our position in the regular season doesn’t matter what matters is how we perform in the final 6,”Odaudu emphasized.
“They did a good job and I hope this continues from now on.” Said Odaudu.
Hoopers will next play against Oluyole Warriors on Saturday in Ibadan.