In the absence of a Nigerian team at the second edition of the Basketball Africa League, eight Nigerians lit up the Sahara and Nile Conference which took place in March at the Dakar Arena and in April at the Dr Hassan Moustafa Sports Hall in Cairo respectively.
Emmanuel Okorafor (Espoir Fukash) and Ik Diogu of Zamalek played at the just concluded Nile Conference while the other six had earlier played in March. Christopher Obekpa and Jawachi Joseph Nzeakor both of SLAC, Clube Ferroviario da Beira trio of Randy Ozoemena Onwuasor, Prince Ifeanyi Orizu and Reuben Abuchi Chinyelu and Joy Ighodovja of REG played at the Sahara Conference.
Like fine wine, Diogu showed why his contribution and commitment to the game cannot be overlooked. He lit up the Dr Hassan Moustafa Sports Hall in the opening game of the Nile Conference as he led the defending champions, Zamalek to an emphatic win over debutant Cobra Sports.
The 38 year old D’Tigers captain shot 10 points in the first quarter and went on to score a team high 17 points and five rebounds to go with it. He also scored a double-double 13 points and 11 rebounds in their last game against FAP as Zamalek emerged champions of the Nile Conference with an 100% record.
Jawachi Joseph Nzeakor
Playing his second season in the Basketball Africa League after suiting up for AS Police in the inaugural edition, Nzeakor is one of the two Nigerians on the SLAC team.
The 24 year old scored 13.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 32 minutes per game. He also had a double-double against Ferroviario da Beira in their fourth game.
The D’Tigers centre led all players in blocks with an average of 4.6 BLKPG and was the fourth highest rebounder in the Sahara Conference with 10.2 RPG after Ater Majok, Mayan Kiir and his compatriot Emmanuel Okorafor in five games. His defensive presence in the paint was a key factor to SLAC’s success in the Sahara Conference.
Obekpa contributed at both ends of the floor averaging 13.4 PPG and made two double-doubles in an average of 34 minutes per game.
Randy Ozoemena Onwuasor
Onwuasor was among the leading scorers for Clube Ferroviario da Beira though it was not enough to power the Mozambican club to the BAL Playoffs. Beira finished in fifth with one win and four defeats.
Onwuasor made 11.4PPG, 5RPG, 3APG in 24 minutes per game in five games.
Prince Ifeanyi Orizu
The 27-year-old Nigerian international who played at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast Australia, played 15 minutes in four games for Beira.
Orizu scored 6.5 points, grabbed 4.3 rebounds and a block.
17-year-old Emmanuel Okorafor made the best out of his BAL debut when he featured for Espoir Fukash in the Nile Conference.
Okorafor averaged 9.2PPG, 10.4RPG, 1.8APG and 1.6 BLKPG in 24 minutes per game, the highest figures for any BAL Elevate Program player.
The Nigerian also recorded three double-doubles in five games.
Reuben Abuchi Chinyelu
A product of the BAL Elevate program, Chinyelu didn’t get his chance to play for Ferroviario da Beira until the fourth game and ended up playing the last two games against SLAC and REG.
The Nigerian teenager shot 3.3 points, 2.7 rebounds in 10 minutes per game for the Mozambicans.
Ighodovja is another product of the BAL Elevate program introduced this season. Of the three Nigerian teenagers, the 17-year-old had least minutes on the floor. He spent just 2 minutes for the Sahara Conference champions, REG, but made his mark with a rebound and a block.
Hopefully we get to see them dazzle in Kigali next month when four of the eight players whose teams have made it to the BAL Playoffs. The teams are:- Zamalek, SLAC and REG.