Patriots of Rwanda are the first team to qualify for the quarterfinals of the Basketball Africa League (BAL).
Patriots overcame Madagascar side Gendarmerie National Basket Club (GNBC) 78-72 on Wednesday afternoon at Kigali Arena.
The win, their second of the tournament, sends Patriots to the quarterfinals having beaten Rivers Hoopers of Nigeria on the opening day last Sunday.
However, the Patriots had to fight from down to overcome GNBC who controlled the opening quarter 25-19. The hosts responded in the second quarter after going down by double figures early in the period with Brandon Costner and Dieudonne Ndizeye leading the rally.
GNBC started the third quarter with an 8-0 run to stretch the lead to 10 points but Patriots chipped away and were within four points (60-56) going into the final quarter.
It took Patriots three minutes to knot the game at 64 with Kenneth Gasana (8 points) coming to life early in the fourth quarter. A 7-0 run capped by Bush Wamukota’s flash thereafter forced GNBC into a timeout.
GNBC never fell far behind but and came to within three points (69-72) on Kiady Razanamahenina’s driving lay-up with just over three minutes to play but Wamukota extended the Patriots’ lead to 5 points from a pick and roll with Sedar Sagamba.
Gasana sunk a floating jumper with just over two minutes to play but Rick-Ley Loubacky connected from the corner to make it a four-point game with 40 seconds to play. Sagamba (9 points), on the other end, found some room to drive and lay-up to ice the game with about 24 seconds to play.
Costner led Patriots with 16 points, Ndizeye added 13 points while Wamukota scored 11 to go with as many rebounds.
Razanamahenina scored game-high 21 points in a losing effort. Elly Randriamampionona, the only other GNBC player to score in double figures, had 13 points.