03 October, 2023
26 November
6 Samson Oluwasegun Akano (CIV)
Game Report
to read

Okafor, Akano lead ABC in blowout win over SLAC


YAOUNDE (Cameroon) - The popular saying 'It's not how you start that's important, but how you finish' fits perfectly to ABC Fighters's fist win in the West Division Elite 16. 

The Ivorian champions outclassed SLAC in the third quarter, and closed it out with a comprehensive 98-70 victory.

Samson Akano had a 9-for-17 shooting to lead ABC with 20 points. He was followed by Amae Chi Okafor who added 15 and James Westbrook came up with 13 points.

Meanwhile, Cote d'Ivoire international player Nisre Zouzoua tried everything he possibly could, finishing with 20 points, but his effort wasn't enough to avoid SLAC's second loss in as many games in the qualifier.

This ABC win became impressive especially after the Fighters struggled to adjust to SLAC's fast-paced rhythm earlier in the game.

Amae Chi Okafor

TURNING POINT: After trailing 22-21 at the end of the quarter, ABC returned on a desperate mode to correct the wrongs, and, a full-court press, followed by an aggressive defensive forced SLAC to look idealess while turning the ball over six times in the second quarter.

SLAC's main scoring weapon in the opening quarter Zaid Hearst, who led all players in scoring in the opening quarter with 8 points, was limited to just two points in the second, which hurt the Conakry-based team.

But the most damaging moment for SLAC came when ABC used a 10-0 run to head to the locker room with a 42-36 lead.

ABC improved to 1-1 while SLAC dropped to 0-2

For most of the second quarter Westbrook, Akano and Okafor were ABC's offensive force with the later tying the game at 36-36 before Westbrook successfully drove to the basket unscathed to  establish the Ivorian champions' control of the game.  

For most of the second Westbrook and Okafor were ABC's offensive force with the later tying the game at 36-36 before Westbrook successfully drove to the basket unscathed to  establish the Ivorian champions' control of the game and they never trailed again.

Although ABC and SLAC were toe-to-toe in the first half, as the 11 lead changes showed, the third and fourth quarters belonged to the former African champions ABC Fighters who made sure to win by as many points as possible to avoid complicated point-differential calculations later in the competition.

HEROES: After a two-point performance in ABC's 84-76 defeat to FUS Rabat on Tuesday, James Westbrook knew he had to step up, and completed his job with 13 points.

Samson Akano led ABC with a team-high 20 points; Amae Chi Okafor added 15 and the Abidjan-based side improved their record to 1-1 with one Group B left to play.  

Ivorian international Nisre Zouzoua led SLAC in scoring with 20 points

 STATS DON'T LIE:  The biggest difference between ABC and SLAC was the way both teams managed their rosters' playing time, with ABC's bench contributing valuable 44 points compared to SLAC's 13. 

SLAC started well playing as a team, but somehow, individual plays surpassed a collective and they finished with just five assists compared to ABC's 14.

Eventually, SLAC's 20 turnovers told the story of the game.

BOTTOM LINE: When both teams faced off in the Elite 16 last year in Abidjan, ABC beat SLAC 81-70 in the Final day of the West Division. 

Both teams opened this year's West Division Elite 16 campaign on Tuesday the losing end. So, winning was a must-do task for either team. ABC Fighters came up victorious especially because of their discipline, self-belief and a cause to fight for.

WHAT THEY SAID:  "I think we had too many turnovers and many of us didn't play too well but we've only been together for two days. That was tough and it was difficult to weather the storm and that's what happened today. We probably needed more time to be together." - Zaid Hearst of SLAC. 

"We got hurt trailing and didn't want to just lay down there after the loss to FUS. We needed to bounce back from that game to better our chances. As it stands, we don't care about the others but our team.' - Samson Akano of ABC Fighters.