03 October, 2023
26 November
Game Report
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Dynamo outlast COSPN, secure last BAL ticket


JOHANNESBURG (South Africa) - Dynamo Basketball Club have written a unique history since the inception of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) qualifiers four years ago.

The Olivier Ndayiragije-coached team faced ups and downs for most of their qualifying campaign, and almost spoiled their BAL dream when things looked done and dusted in Sunday's Third-Place Game.

Eventually, Dynamo secured the last slot for the fourth BAL season thanks to a nail-biting 79-78 win over Madagascar champions COSPN.

The win means that Dynamo are the first team to benefit from an Elite 16 wild card to qualify to the BAL Finals, and more importantly, they have become the first Burundian side to join the continent's clubs premier basketball competition. 

Dynamo's sense of urgency in the opening quarter caught COSPN by surprise as the Bujumbura-based side went on a 11-2 run, 2 minutes into the game that forced COSPN to call a timeout.

COSPN's Samuel Adewunmi opened the scoreline after making one of his two free-throws for their only lead in the first half.

Bello Nkanira's 3-pt buzzer-beater that sealed the first quarter at 30-18 was a clear example of how determined Dynamo were to get the job done as early as possible. They even led by as many as 17 points in the first half.

Defensively, Dynamo were all over the place, preventing any potential COSPN shooting opportunity, which forced the Malagasy champions to turn the ball over 6 times, a quarter and half into the game. 

However, Julien Chaignot's continuing instructions paid off as his COSPN closed the game to 47-41 at halftime. 

And, in a turn of events COSPN rallied, using an 18-0 run between the second and the third quarter and enjoyed an 11-point lead.

Dynamo looked panicking in the defining moments of the game, but thanks to a sequence of COSPN's missed free-throws Ndayiragije's charges were able to retake the lead and seal the historic win in the final 28 seconds of the game. 

Ironically, Dynamo, who averaged only 50 percent from the free-throw line before Sunday's Elite 16 Third-Place Game, scored their final two points from the charity stripe, courtesy of David Kongor Deng.  

TURNING POINT: The popular saying that basketball is a sport of runs fitted perfectly to this encounter where two evenly-matched teams fought tooth and nail to secure the last ticket for next year's BAL season.

Elly Randriamampionona's 3-pt closed the gap to 56-55 with 02:37 left in the third before Livio Ratianarivo hit another 3-pt that gave  COSPN a 58-56 lead with a minute left in the third. COSPN entered the final quarter leading 62-59,  

 HERO: Coming off the bench and finishing 3-for-4 from long range was everything Dynamo needed from Bello Nkanira, who contributed 11 points and 2 assists. 

Chis Obekpa, a former NBA G League player with Santa Cruz Warriors and a two-time BAL participant, brought his resilience to the fore, keeping Dynamo in the game with a game-high 14 rebounds, 1 block shot while contributing 8 points in 32 minutes on the floor.

STATS DON'T LIE: Forcing Bishop Micheal Coulter out of his comfort zone paid off for Dynamo as the American power forward, a central piece in COSPN's offensive game, finished with just 4 points, 5 rebounds (zero on the offensive end). 

BOTTOM LINE: At the end of the BAL qualifiers, Dynamo return to Bujumbura with an overall 4-3 record, which included a 2-1 mark from the preliminary round held in Dar es Salaam. 

At times, during the Third-Place Game, Dynamo looked idealess, but when it mattered most, they delivered the final blow.

WHAT THEY SAID: "We came here today to get the job done. We are happy that we made it through. I am proud of my teammates; they all fought for this victory. It's not about me, it's about the team. 

"We came here ready to fight. We knew what we had. Our fans have always been behind us and we are proud of them for supporting us. We knew it was going to be difficult, but at the end of the day, we knew that the game is not played on paper. Today we stood together. The main thing that made us through was the togetherness among ourselves." - Dynamo Basketball Club forward David Kongor Deng.