Randle leads Monastir to win over REG but Conference undecided
DAKAR, SENEGAL — Heading into the final day of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) Sahara Conference in Dakar, there is still no team which can say beyond doubt that they have qualified for the playoffs.
After ABC Fighters beat Kwara Falcons 79-76 and US Monastir beat REG 84-79 on Monday, there is still a possibility that after Tuesday’s action, the top five teams will need to be separated on points difference.
Only four can progress to the playoffs in Kigali (May 21-27), along with the top four teams from the Nile Conference in Cairo (April 26 – May 6).
It was widely assumed within the BAL community that REG had qualified for the playoffs after the Rwandan side won their first three games. Indeed, the club and the league announced that they had progressed.
It is still likely that they will, as they are currently one of only three teams with three victories — the others being Ivory Coast’s ABC and Tunisia’s Monastir.
According to the NBA Africa’s media team, however, it will come down to points difference if Douanes beat Monastir in their final game and Stade Malien beat ABC, as this would leave each team in the conference bar Kwara Falcons with three wins.
“I don’t know the scenarios right now, but one scenario we knew before the game was that if we won, it wouldn’t matter what anybody else did,” REG coach Dean Murray said in his post-match press conference after the Monastir defeat.
Jerome Randle was instrumental for Monastir with 32 points, but warned that it was too early to say the defending champions were a settled side after their defeat to ABC Fighters.
The American said: “It doesn’t take one game to say we’re coming together. I think we had a great game. We have a long way to go – obviously, this was a great game to win, because [we had our] backs against the wall. It shows the direction the BAL is going in – guys are focused and they want to win.”
ABC Fighters secure qualification to the playoffs
Chudier Bile puts ABC Fighters on top with their third win securing a spot to the playoffs in Kigali.
Earlier, Chudier Bile’s 24 points and five rebounds had helped ABC come back from behind late on to snatch victory against Kwara and condemn the Nigerian side to a winless season.
Coach Liz Mills did not join her team’s bench, but still watched the game courtside as she recovered from what she said was a bout of food poisoning.
The Australian coach said: “I completely trust the players and coaching staff, who are doing an amazing job in my absence. Very proud of the team performance – Chudi was outstanding today.
“We had different guys in every single game step up. That’s what’s great about this team – on any given day, we can have anybody step up and that’s the depth of this team.
Meanwhile, Kwara Falcons coach Kadri Jibril pledged to go back to the drawing board, saying: “I think we still have an opportunity to come back. Definitely, it’s going to be a different story,” he said. “I promise you guys that.”
The BAL airs on ESPN in Africa. Follow the schedule and scores here.
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