Mark ‘D’ Ball: TAP out dunk Benue Braves 88-83, record first win

Mark ‘D’ Ball: TAP out dunk Benue Braves 88-83, record first win

By Victor Okoye

The Assist Planet (TAP) Basketball Club on Monday out dunked Benue Braves 88-83, to record their first win at the ongoing Mark ‘D’ Ball Men’s basketball championship in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Ogun-based club and Benue Braves came into the Phase 1, Group 3 Matchday three fixture on a two-game loss apiece and were, therefore, desperate for a win.

However, it was the TAP team who showed more hunger and desire right from the blast of the referee’s whistle and deservedly took the first quarter at 23-22.

But, Benue Braves gradually clawed their way back into the game in the second quarter as they rallied to take it 23-17, for a 45-40 lead at half time.

The game took on a ding-doing pattern as TAP came back with more strength and vigour to take the third set 28-15 for a 68-60 lead.

However, it was the turn of the Benue Braves as they looked to turn the tide in their favour when they won the fourth quarter with 23-20.

But, their efforts fell short of expectation as TAP ran away victorious with a five-point margin at the end of a 88-83 thriller at the Indoor Sports Hall of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium.

The result meant Benue Braves’ loss had continued for a third straight game in a row as they continued to seek redemption with four matches  still to play.

“Sulaiman Owolabi was the star for TAP as the point guard scored a total of 24 points, including three rebounds, seven assists, two steals and eight turnovers.

”We had a rough start in our first game against Bauchi Nets but a better game against a solid Kano Pillars side, even though we also lost that game.

“So, I am excited that all our hard work is beginning to pay off and hopefully we can build from this when we take on Novena Heartlanders in our next game,” an excited Famoiyo Olarewaju, Coach of TAP, said.

TAP Captain Owolabi on his part told NAN that the key to the team’s victory was  their improvement in the defensive department.

“Our defence was porous in our previous games and I had to talk to my teammates to buckle up and push harder, in spite of the fact that we had a good offense.

“But the truth is that offense wins games, while defence wins championships.

“I am the point guard and the one who controls the game. Sometimes my teammates lose their heads and as the most senior player in the team, it is my duty to call them to order,” he said.

In another matchday three game also played on Monday, a young and energetic Novena Heartlanders of Imo blew a 20-point lead, as Kada Stars came from behind to win 74-73 in a highly dramatic and suspense-filled encounter.

The three-month long championship which resumed on Saturday with the Phase 1, Group three final round of matches would end on Friday.

Five teams each are expected to qualify from each of the three (eight-team) groups for the Round of 16, with the best loser joining the qualified teams.

Mo’ Heat, Gombe Bulls, Hot Coal Ballers, Nile University Spartans and APA Flames have already qualified from Phase 1 Group 1.

Also, Nigeria Customs, FCT Hardrockers, Kwara Falcons, Suleja Bulldogs and Civil Defenders are the already qualified teams from Phase 1 Group 2. (NAN)

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