Nigeria’s representatives at the 2023 Basketball Africa League, Kwara Falcons are still in search of their first win after an 85-75 defeat to the reigning champions, US Monastir in Dakar on Wednesday.
Ibrahima Thomas scored a team high 22 points and 5 rebounds including three 3-pointers. Oussama Marnaoui added 15 points and shot 4-of-7 from behind the arc in 25 minutes.
Falcons started with an aggressive approach from tipoff and led for most part of the first two-quarters. With two seconds left in the first quarter, Falcons’ forward Sita Conteh blew a chance to increase the gap from the free throw line, he shot just one of three as Falcons took a 6 points lead to the second quarter (17-11).
Marnaoui scored from the deep at the start of the second quarter however, he got a swift response from Michael Oriakhi of the Falcons who shot 5 points to extend the lead to 8.
Monastir reduced the gap with a 5-0 run yet the Nigerians remained resolute in the paint to take a 3 point lead to the locker room.
Firas Lahyani went one short of a double-double, he scored 9 points and 12 rebounds in the game. He added 8 assists, 2 steals and 1 block to go with it.
Lahyani took charge of the boards, made runs within the paint which made it difficult for the Falcons.
Despite being outscored in the third 18-23, the Falcons showed a much improved performance unlike their last two games where they struggled at both ends in the third.
“We are in a learning process I think we played a better third quarter we usually have problem but we took care of it today, said Falcons head coach Baba Jibril.
Monastir shot five 3-pointers in the last quarter of the game including two from Thomas as the champions snatched the win from an inexperienced Falcons.
”I don’t have a particular preference most of the times you see me dropping threes is work and not luck and whatever I am assigned to do I do it,” said Thomas.
For the Falcons, Victor Ezeh had 22 points and two 3-pointers while Ruot Monyyong added 17 points and 6 rebounds.
Kwara Falcons will next face the home team AS Daounes on Friday as both sides chase their first win in the Sahara Conference.