NBA Academy Africa shock Urunani in tense battle
JOHANNESBURG (South Africa) - The NBA Academy Africa caused an upset in the Road to BAL Elite 16 Group F qualifier on Wednesday at the Ellis Park Arena, in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Academy youngsters overcame Burundi's Urunani 79-69 in a tension-filled Group A encounter.
TURNING POINT: The fourth-quarter ejection of Urunani's point guard Adonis Filer, who got called for two unsportsmanlike fouls, changed the fortunes of both teams.
The loss of Filer, who had 17 points for the East Africans, meant one less attacking option. For the Academy, it meant they did not have to worry about guarding for the remainder of the game.
GAME HERO: Academy's captain Rueben Chinyelu led from the front in attack and defence. His double-double (19 points and 10 rebounds) proved to be the difference in the game against Urunani, when he was not rising for put-back dunks, he proved to be a defensive anchor.
Thierry Darlan also rose to the occasion. The floor general had a second game where he scored in double figures. The Academy guard, who had 16 points in the loss to the Cape Town Tigers, came up big for his team.
The Central African Republic international player scored 18 of his game-high 24 points from behind the arc, while providing 7 assists for the Academy.
STATS DON'T LIE: The game was close as the 17 lead changes evidenced it. The stats point to that fact, but it was NBA Academy that led some statistical aspects. The Academy outrebounded Urunani 48-39. They were ahead in steals 12-11, and, limiting Landry Ndikumana to just 9 points proved fundamental.
And the Academy's five block turned out to be even more important for a team that trailed all but 13:16 minutes of the game.
BOTTOM LINE: The NBA Academy were better at executing than Urnani, which led to their victory. The Burundi club also concentrated on getting calls from the referee instead of trying to focus on outplaying their opponent.
THEY SAID: "It was a good match up for us. Getting the opportunity to compete against pros helps us to improve our craft. From first quarter they were shooting threes, so we needed to adjust. We listened to the coach's instructions and cut out their shooting." - NBA Academy Africa forward Rueben Chinyelu.
"We gave up a lot of easy shots and let some of their better players get free. Defensively we were not as good as we should have been. We also need to adjust to the calls of the referees. We cannot allow calls going against us to dictate how we play. We have to come out and still play." - Urunani guard Adonis Filer.
*The day's final game saw Cape Town Tigers defeat Kenya Ports Authority 96-72 in their Group A fixture on Wednesday night.
Evans Ganapamo led the scoring for the Tigers with 20 points, while Micheal Gbinije dropped 19 points. Raphieal Putney (19) and Dhieu Deng (17) contributed to the victory effort of the Cape Town-based team.
In the day's other games Ferroviario da Beira of Mozambique and City Oilers from Uganda qualified for the semi-finals after winning their respective Group B games.
Da Beira powered past Madagascar's COSPN 84-53, while the Oilers beat Zambia's Matero Magic 83-73.
The two teams will face each other on Thursday to determine which team tops Group B.
Kenya Ports Authority started like a house on fire in the first quarter and had a 22-12 lead with Williams scoring 15 points.