Solomon Ajegbeyi recorded his third double-double of the season as Atlantic Conference leaders, Rivers Hoopers rallied to thrash Police Baton 80-60 on Saturday in Port Harcourt.
Ajegbeyi finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 2 assists while Ronald Alalibo got off the bench to score 14 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists.
Fellow back court mates, Friday Haruna knocked in 10 points and 8 rebounds while Victor James contributed 10 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists.
It took a while for the hosts’ starters to get into their groove.
The visitors shot out to a 12-16 lead at the end of first quarter but the KingsMen answered with a 20-12 run in the second to build a 32-28 lead. Alalibo’s 3 point shot with 4 seconds left on the clock increased the gap to 35-28 by half time.
Baton’s guard, Okafor Frank led three other players scoring 17 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists. Police Baton managed to score just 8 points in the third quarter.
Ajegbeyi who overcame a scoreless first quarter knocked in 13 points in the final quarter with a 6-0 run and capped by a dunk getting Hoopers to a 20 point lead with 1:20 seconds left to play.
Police Baton coach Emeka Oputa attributed the loss to fatigue.
“We are supposed to come on time yesterday but we came in a little late,” he bemoaned.
“We are supposed to practice yesterday evening and not this morning. We came into Port Harcourt before we could sort out a lot of things from the authorities.
“You could see we started well but we were supposed to rest throughout the day for this game but we couldn’t,” he added.
Hoopers boast of a seven-game winning run at home and when asked if he had it on his mind, Emeka admitted he did.
“Of course we came to beat Port Harcourt we are not here to joke if you had looked at the game. We came with just one of our big men, others were not around because some are sick. But when next we will be here, they will all be with us,” Emeka promised.
Hoopers coach, Ogoh Odaudu admitted that his boys underrated the Police Baton.
“It’s only natural that you underrate a team that you have beaten away from home and that was the problem we had in the first quarter.
“That’s why I spent a lot of time yelling at them because they needed to pick up and not let them get enough confidence to assume that they were going to come and beat us here.
“That was what I was working on throughout the first and second quarter but thankfully in the third quarter they came out prepared and we did well,” said Odaudu.
Up next for Hoopers is a two-game road trip to Kwara Falcons in Ilorin and Oluyole Warriors in Ibadan next Thursday and Saturday respectively.