A week after beating the hosts of the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) Patriots BBC 91-76 in the group stages, US Monastir on Saturday defeated the Rwandan champions 87-46 to join Zamalek in the BAL Final.
It was the Tunisians’ second largest winning margin of the BAL season, their largest coming in a 113-66 win over Madagascar GNBC 113-66.
The Patriots stepped on the court ready to upset the No. 1 seeded team. The two teams saw four lead changes, with US Monastir ahead 16-14 after the opening quarter.
Prince Ibeh drew two early fouls in the first half forcing Patriots head coach Alan Major to remove him to protect him from an early exclusion of the game. The Tunisians took advantage of Ibeh’s absence, adjusted offensively and they went on to open a 37-22 halftime lead sparked by a 17-0 run in the second quarter.
US Monastir never looked back after opening up the early lead and forced the Patriots to turn the ball over 26 times.
Dieudonne Ndizeye, the only Patriots BBC player to score in double digits, had 13 points on a 4-for-13 shooting, including 2-for-6 from long range; Kenneth Gasana and Ibeh finished with eight points apiece.
Meanwhile, Tunisia international player Omar Abada was on fire, tallying game highs with 18 points and five assists. Four other US Monastir players, including Marcus Crawford, Wael Arakji, Majok James and Firas Lahyani scored in double digits combining 46 points.
“After the first quarter we regrouped and decided that it was time to stop them from making those crazy shots. We played more aggressively, and that’s how we won the game,” said US Monastir power forward Makrem Ben Romdhane.
US Monastir assistant coach Safouen Ferjani recalled that his team is in Kigali “to win the BAL title.”
During a post-game presser, Major said that “it was a bad day for a good team.”