The Savannah Conference won their third straight DStv Premier Basketball league All Star game at the weekend inside the indoor hall of the National Stadium, Abuja, in a tightly contested match to beat the Atlantic Conference 81-77 points.
In an ebullient display of skills, the Savannah Conference, tutored by Sani Ahmed, led 31-22 after the first quarter and won the second 26-22 to lead 57-44 at half-time.
However, the tide turned in the third quarter, as the Atlantic Conference, led by Coach Adewumi Aderemi, fought back with a 23-12 point lead, and almost closed out the game after leading 10-7 in the fourth quarter by a 77-76 scoreline with 25 seconds to end the game.
Two-time MVP, Abubakar Usman of Kano Pillars had other ideas as he scored three points from the free throw line, taking his game tally to 13 points and helped Savannah Conference win the game.
Speaking after the enthralling matchup, General Manager, Marketing, MultiChoice Nigeria, Martin Mabutho, expressed pleasure over the evolution of the All Star game in the country.
“Our commitment towards the game has been consistent. You will recall that the first All Star game was hosted in Kaduna in 2010. Since then, we have held the All Star games, introducing innovation and excitement at every turn. Today was no exception with Supersports beaming the match live to Nigerians. We are here for the long haul and we intend to take the game round the country,” Mr. Mabutho said.
Speaking on the development of basketball in Nigeria, Mr. Mabutho said that “the future of the game of basketball looks very bright and promising which explains our rationale for bringing the All Star Game to Abuja for the first time.
“The attendance was good with the calibre of high profile guests that attended the Game including the wonderful fans that turned up. It has been a wonderful experience, one that deserves applause, considering the standard of play on the court, and the passion exhibited by the fans. They all lived up to the billing.”
Starters for the Savannah Conference included the trio of Abubakar Usman, Mathew Onmonya, and AbdulWahab Yahaya from Kano Pillars, Timothy Kwaor of Gombe Bulls and Stanley Gumut of Mark Mentors, while the Atlantic Conference paraded Wilfred Romeo from Kwara Falcons, Romaric Quenum from Nigeria Customs, Victor James from Royal Hoopers, Emuhowa Oghenetano from Delta Force and Owolabi Suleiman from Oluyole Warriors on its starting roster.
The lively event also featured the Skills challenge, Slam dunk contest and 3-point shootout competition amongst the players. There were also musical performances by fast rising artiste, Joe El Amadi, who thrilled the audience with hit singles like Oya now and serving a living God, while Sekem crooner, MC Galaxy engaged the energetic cheer leaders in a dance battle at half time.
At the end of the All Star Game, Romeo Wilfred emerged as the Most Outstanding Player while Kano Pillars Dele Ademola won the MVP prize. Lucky Subel, also from Kano Pillars, won the Slam Dunk Contest with 48 points while Suleiman Owolabi won the Skills Challenge and Akpara Akita of Bauchi Nets won the 3 point contest with 23 points.
Some of the dignitaries who graced the All Star Game included the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalong; President, Nigeria Basketball Federation Tijjani Umar; Chairman of the House Committee on Sports, Bukar Goni Lawal; President of the Nigeria Olympic Commission (NOC), Sani Ndanusa, amongst others.