Abidjan Basket Club Fighters defeated AS Douanes 76-70 in the opening game of the 2023 Basketball Africa League in Dakar on Saturday.
Coached by Australian Liz Mills, ABC started the game on a high as they built an early lead to end the first quarter 25-14.
The Ivorian side took down AS Douanes in transition went on fast breaks 22-15, while keeping their defense tight.
The debutants held a 12 point-lead at the break and were the better team in assists 11-5. AS Douanes shot 2/12 from the deep against 6-of-18 made by ABC.
Amadou Abdoulaye Harouna scored a game high 25 points and 7 rebounds while adding 2 assists and 2 steals.
Seydou Fofana Santis added 21 points and 8 rebounds in 31 minutes played for ABC.
Harouna shot 5/10 from behind the arc with four of it coming in the third quarter of the game.
The 31 year old Nigerien who last played for Liz Mills at AS Sale in the 2022 edition of the Basketball Africa League revealed why he accepted to join her at ABC.
“I know what coach expects of me anything she wants me to do or how, I understand her so it was easy for me to come here.
”But before she joined ABC, their staff members had been in contact with me to come join ABC so when she got here my chances of joining the team went from 50 to 98 after that I looked at the team, my idol Stephen Konate a great leader and the locals it was just the perfect fit for me.”
Despite just scoring just 2 points, Chris Obekpa made his mark on the defensive end going one short of a double digit. He made 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks to go with it.
Propelled by the support of the home crowd, the host found their rhythm in the second half as they outscored ABC 17-15 in the third quarter.
The duo of Terrell Stoglin and Marcus Christopher Crawford who combined for 15 points in the first half, brought their much needed experience in the second half taking control of the game from the offensive end.
Stoglin had 21 points while Crawford scored 17 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and dropped 3 threes in the game.
With 3:47 remaining, Crawford dropped a three to cut the gap to 2 points 60-62 but it was ABC who held off a late surge from the host to earn an historic win in the Basketball Africa League.
ABC head coach Mills said the win in the first game was very important to avoid last season’s mistake.
“I understand how important it is to get a win under your belt. Last season the team I was with we lost the first game that really set the tone for us heading to our four other games not like we prioritize wins its process over outcomes.”said Mills.
“We knew we were going to get the win anyway so credit to our players to execute our game plan.”
ABC Fighters will next play Rwanda Energy Group (REG) Basketball on Tuesday.
Photo credit – BAL