The final 8 of the Nigeria Premier Basketball kick-started on Friday with Victor Anthony Koko dropping 14 points and 10 rebounds to lift Rivers Hoopers past Benue Braves 65-52, at the Indoor Sports Hall, Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abuja.

The Kingsmen who became the first Nigerian team to play at the inaugural edition of Basketball Africa League in Rwanda, will have to battle 7 other teams to book sole slot to represent Nigeria at the 2022 edition of the BAL.

Anthony Koko also registered 9 blocks, as Rivers Hoopers built a double digit lead at half-time (41-27), ensuring they had little job to do in the second-half.

In another game, heavyweights Gombe Bulls pumelled Police Baton 79-40 to begin final phase on a bright note.

Oyebanji (13 points) Yakubu (12 points) Anyaoha (10 points) and Sylvannus ( 10 points 5 rebounds) completes four players from Gombe Bulls with double figures.

In the toughest game of the day, Customs needed Akhutie’s 27 points and 13 rebounds to usurp Kwara Falcons 76-73. Nwankiji also added 15 points with a rebound shy of double double.

Kano Pillars was handed a victory without tip-off, as Lagos Islanders failed to make it to the match venue.

The second round comes up on Saturday, as Rivers Hoopers have an uphill against Police Baton and Customs will lock-horns with Kano Pillars, earlier in the day Benue Braves will hope to get first win against Gombe Bulls, while Kwara Falcons will put behind previous defeat to Customs, as they challenge Lagos Islanders.