Tigers earn a hard-fought victory over Oilers to qualify for the BAL 2023
JOHANNESBURG (South Africa) - The Road to BAL Elite 16 Division East qualifiers saw Cape Town Tigers take the last automatic qualifying spot for the Basketball Africa League (BAL) in Johannesburg on Saturday night.
The South African club beat City Oilers 75-69 in a thriller for the ages.
The Tigers led the game until the fourth quarter, relinquished it and then reclaimed it at the death.
The loss for the Oilers means that they will compete for the final qualifying spot in the Third-Place game against Urunani on Sunday.
TURNING POINT: Dhieu Deng's back-to-back three-pointers in the final minutes of the fourth quarter turned the game in the Tigers' favour.
Another key factor was the Tigers' defence throughout the game, they hustled and bullied the Oilers players.
GAME HERO: Dhieu Deng was one of the heroes of the Tigers. Deng, who got injured in the group stages against NBA Academy, returned and played the game of his life. His 24 points were crucial to the Tigers qualifying to the BAL.
Evans Ganapamo, who played every minute of the game, was solid in defence as he forced two steals and provided two highlight-reel dunks in a 22-point performance for the Tigers.
Raphiael Putney was a monster on the boards for the Tigers. He crashed 11 boards, and ten came at the defensive end.
STATS DON'T LIE: The Oilers could only make 3 of their 11 free-throw attempts (27 percent), while Cape Town weren't particularly great from the line making 11 for 16 (68 percent).
Tigers won the rebounding battle with a 49-47 advantage and stole the ball 12 times to the Ugandan club's seven.
BOTTOM LINE: The Oilers' dependency on Falando Jones backfired on Saturday, and this was evidenced in his production compared to the rest of the team.
Falando finished with a game-high of 40 points in 40 minutes - more than half of the Oilers' 69 points - while Ngor Barnaba, the other Oilers' player in double digits, finished with 10 points.
Jimmy Enabu had a night to forget, finishing with 2 points on a 1-for-8 shooting in 30 minutes.
Titus Odeke, and Uchechi Nnamdi Ogbonna, the only substitus to see action, finished with 4 points apiece. Clearly, poor bench options and rotation proved costly for the Ugandan champions.
The Tigers, meanwhile, showed they can rise from adverse situations, and they have finally found a team formula that had been missing since they came into existence.
THEY SAID: "This is the goal we have been working towards for the last five months, and it has shown on the court tonight. We had a little adversity (Dhieu), Deng, Raphieal (Putney) and Liam (Ried) getting injured. We stayed together and the fact that we are playing at home with our fans behind us helped us get the hard-fought win." - Tigers head coach Florsheim Ngwenya.
"I feel great. I am the rookie in the team and I got big shots. I think it showed my character in the game. That my team believes in me lets me know that I can take those types of shots. I feel good right now and I am happy that we are going to the BAL." - Cape Town Tigers guard Dhieu Deng.
City Oilers and Urunani will face off in Sunday's Third-Place game to determine the last ticket for the BAL 2023.