Nigeria’s representatives at the 2023 Basketball Africa League, Kwara Falcons lost 64-48 to Rwanda Energy Group (REG) Basketball in the first game of their debut season on Sunday.

For the second time in the history of the BAL, a Nigerian team lost their opening game in the competition and both coming against a team from Rwanda.

In the inaugural edition of the BAL held two years ago, Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers lost their opening game to Rwanda’s Patriots Basketball Club in Kigali.

Delwan Graham, Adonis Filer and Cleveland Thomas Jr combined for 40 of 64 scored by the Rwandan champions.

Graham led the way with 16 points and also contributed from the defensive end with 12 rebounds for REG in 34 minutes.

Delwan Graham

Pitchou Kambuy Manga was difficult to deal with in the paint recording 12 rebounds and went 2-6 from the field. He also registered 4 blocks and shot 75% from the free throw line.

Kwara Falcons crawled their way back from a 12-point deficit to trail by 2 (29-31) at half time.

REG made a 15-0 run to extend the lead to 46-31 with 3:25 minutes remaining in the third limiting the Falcons to just 8 points going into the fourth but there was nothing the Nigerians could do as they fell to REG in their first game.

Jawad Adekoya had 15 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals the only Falcons player who finished on double figures while Ruot Monyyong contributed 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks.

Kolawole guarding a Rwanda Energy Group player

“We had some jitters in the first half, its our first game, its a young team, a new team in the BAL.”

“The shots were not dropping in the first half. I think we will be able to make some adjustments and come better on a Tuesday,” said Adekoya.

Head coach of Kwara Falcons Baba Jubril admitted his team’s inexperience was a major set back for his team.

“Playing the first game in this kind of environment or arena is weird to the guys but they got used to it in the second half. I know we will do better in our second game.”

Falcons committed 21 turn overs, were outrebounded 48-45 and fell short in assists 12-22.

“Definitely you can’t have 21 turn overs and axpect to win that game. We will definitely work on that”

Kwara Falcons will face Stade Malien of Mali while REG will take on Abidjan Basket Club on Tuesday 14, March.

Picture credit – BAL