Reigning champions of the Basketball Africa League, US Monastir have advanced to the 2023 playoffs scheduled to hold at the BK Arena, Kigali in May.
Jerome Randle scored a team high 32 points, shot 4/ 6 from the deep and was 100% from the free throw line.
Ibrahima Thomas added 17 and 7 rebounds with 5-of-9 three pointers to go with it while Firas Lahyani shot 11 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists for Monastir.
The Tunisian champions took a 15 point advantage at the end of the first quarter 10-25. Monastir were too hot to handle and determined to bounce back from the defeat to ABC Fighters in their last game.
Cleveland Thomas Jr had 16 points and went 6/6 from the line in the first half but REG were culpable from turnovers (12) against 5 made by Monastir and went 0/9 from the deep, a first in 5 games for the Rwandan champions.
Randle had 13 points, 3/4 from the deep while Thomas shot 8 points and 2/4 from behind the arc before the break.
The Monastir point guard said the victory over REG was a collective effort.
”We had a great game obviously we have a long way to go. Collectively we gave it our best shot, we came to win and we collectively won this game.”
Monastir increased the lead to 21 points with 2:47 remaining in the third quarter. REG who had not registered a 3 pointer in the game, shot their first 25 seconds later when Adonis Filer made his first of the night to cut the gap to 18.
Thomas made it a game high 38 points, the highest score in a BAL game since Terrell Stoglin scored 41 points for AS Sale coincidentally against US Monastir at the Sahara Conference on March 11, 2022.
Despite starting slow in the game, REG rallied to cut the deficit to a single point (72-67) and were determined to turn the game around but two turn overs late in the game stopped them from winning the game.
“Monastir have a good team and a good coach. we got down early I was hoping we catch up but they made more plays in the end,” REG head coach Dean Murray admitted.
”They have good starters and have a very good bench they keep bringing big guys in so it was tough for us to play our small line up tonight. Few times we did it, it didnt work for us.”
US Monastir will play their last game of the Sahara conference on Tuesday against the host AS Douanes.