Petro de Luanda made sure to remind everyone about the importance of a vital and productive bench when it defeated AS Salé 97-78 on Sunday night at Kigali Arena.
The Angolan champions trailed by as many as 14 points in the second quarter, but reserves Olimpio Cipriano and Ryan Richards changed the course of the game, combining for eight three-pointers to help Petro de Luanda close its Group B run undefeated with a 3-0 mark.
Cipriano buried three straight three-pointers, Morais followed it up with another three, and Petro de Luanda went on to close the first half with the 48-46 lead.
Cipriano went on to score 15 of his 17 points in the game from long range, and Richards was 3-for-4 from beyond the arc, to finish with a team-high 19 points.
Petro de Luanda’s offensive strategy worked so well that two of its bigs (Richards and Valdelicio Joaquim) combined for five three-pointers.
“Big shoutout to [Antwan] Scott. We had a little talk earlier on. He assisted the ball seven times, and four of them went to me. Love to other guys for believing in me after two bad games,” Richards stressed after the game.
Terrel Stoglin, who set a BAL record for most points scored in game when he paced AS Salé with his 40 points in his team’s 88-79 win over AS Police on Thursday, scored nine of his game-high 25 points from the charity stripe.
“I look forward to playing them again in the next round,” reacted AS Salé’s Rashad Deane James who did everything he could to keep the Moroccan champions in the game with his 22 points and 12 rebounds.
“In the first half we competed well, but in the second half, they made their run, we didn’t respond well enough, and the result is what it is. Fortunately for us, we are going to see them again,” James said.
Said El Bouzidi’s men tried several defensive schemes – from zone to full court press – but the night belonged to Petro de Luanda who finished by going 14-of-35 from three-point range.
El Bouzidi admitted that catch-and-shoot players like Cipriano are difficult to guard, and tonight was one of those games.
“It was a close game,” El Bouzidi insisted.
“We couldn’t really stay in rhythm to close outside shots. We didn’t readapt. Cipriano is a great player, he catches and shoots, we couldn’t contain him. We didn’t really stay focused on the defensive end, maybe we weren’t aggressive enough either, but we can certainly improve.”
Numbers don’t lie:
Stoglin and James combined for 47 of AS Salé points, Abderrahim Najah added 14 points, but no other player score more than seven points.
To make Petro de Luanda’s dominance clearer, the Angolan team’s bench outscored AS Salé’s bench 50-10.