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Mark ‘D’ Basketball: Nigeria Customs beat Kwara Falcons, tops group

Nigeria Customs on Saturday edged out Kwara Falcons of Ilorin 80-77 to emerge group 2 winners of the 2022 Mark ‘D’ Ball Men’s Basketball Championship…

Nigeria Customs on Saturday edged out Kwara Falcons of Ilorin 80-77 to emerge group 2 winners of the 2022 Mark ‘D’ Ball Men’s Basketball Championship in Abuja.

The result meant that Nigeria Customs, who won a total of six games out of seven, topped the eight-team Phase 1, Group 2 table with 13 points.

The final group game, which began in a ding-dong fashion, saw Nigeria Customs and Kwara Falcons slugging it out in a battle of nerves for supremacy.

This was after table-toppers FCT Hardrockers with 11 points had relinquished the top spot when they narrowly lost their game 58-59 to Plateau Peaks at the end of a tough contest.

This set the pace for the final game of Matchday 7 which saw Nigeria Customs and Kwara Falcons, both tied on 11 points, locking horns in a winner-takes-all battle at the Indoor Sports Hall of the Moshood Abiola national stadium.

But, it was the more experienced Nigeria Customs club who triumphed when they won the first quarter with a three-point difference of 16-13.

They extended their lead by five points in the second quarter taking it 22-20 to end in a 38-33 scoreline.

Kwara Falcons had their work cut out for them, rallying in the last two quarters as they tried to narrow the gap, taking it 19-18, 25-24.

However, any thoughts of a comeback were put to rest in the final seconds of the fourth quarter as Customs held on to snatch the game by just three points for a 80-77 scoreline at the end of a pulsating encounter.

The Ilorin-based club with 12 points had to settle for the third spot behind FCT Hardrockers, who also finished with 12 points, by virtue of the latter’s head-to-head superiority.

NAN also reports that other results on matchday seven saw Suleja Bulldogs defeat Warri-based CAMAC 87-71 to claim the fourth spot with 11 points.

NSCDC’s Civil Defenders with 10 points settled for the fifth position after out-dunking Niger Potters 70-61 to push Plateau Peaks to sixth, who also finished with 10 points, by virtue of the former’s head-to-head superiority.

The Jos-based side had to settle for the sixth position and would now have to wait and see if they would make it to the round of 16 as best losers, after winning three out of seven games with a goal difference of – 6.

CAMAC (-71) and Niger Potters (-130) with eight points finished seventh and eighth respectively, after managing to win only one game each and have thus been automatically eliminated from the competition.

The three-month-long championship, which resumed on Sunday with the Phase 1, Group two round of games, ended on Saturday.

The championship would resume on Friday next week with Phase 1, Group 3 round of matches to determine the final qualified teams.

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

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

They are now joined by Nigeria Customs, FCT Hardrockers, Kwara Falcons, Suleja Bulldogs and Civil Defenders who qualified from Phase 1 Group 2.

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