Nigeria’s flagbearers at the ongoing 2023 Sahara Conference of the Africa Basketball League in Dakar will hope to revive their chances of remaining in the continental playoffs in May in Kigali.
Kwara Falcons enter Tuesday’s Sahara Conference action against Stade Malien looking to bounce back from a modest start of their Basketball Africa League (BAL) debut.
Falcons and Maliens have never faced each other in official competitions.
The Falcons’ 64-48 defeat against Rwanda Energy Group (REG) was the largest losing margin by any team in the Sahara Conference so far, and it exposed the Nigerian champions’ weaknesses.
The 16-point loss to REG should be a wake-up call for the Falcons if they are to fight for a spot in the BAL playoffs in May in Kigali.
Falcons forward Anthony Wilson Jr insisted that the loss to the Rwanda champions shouldn’t define the Falcons, but he admitted that they need “to fix what we need to fix and come firing on our next game.”
A look into the numbers suggest that the Falcons need to be able to move and handle the ball better than they did against Rwanda Energy Group .
The 11 assists they recorded on Saturday were the lowest among the six Sahara Conference’s six teams, and the 22 turnovers were the highest in the 2023 Sahara Conference so far.
To avoid a second defeat in as many games, the Falcons need to fight for every possession and contest every Stade Malien’s three-point attempt, which turned out one of the reasons the Malian champions came up short against Monastir. Malien finished 5-for-31 from behind the arc.
Long range shooting was the only part of the game that Stade Malien came up short against Monastir.
The Bamako-based team out-rebounded the BAL reigning champions (43-41); they forced Monastir to turn the ball over 21 times – four times more than Stade Malien; they recorded 7 steals – three more compared to Monastir – and had one more assist (15-14.)
If stats from Falcons and Stade Malien over the weekend are anything to go by, the Malian champions appear to hold a slight advantage.