Angolan basketball giants Petro de Luanda beat Abidjan Basket Club (ABC) on Sunday at the BK Arena to secure a semifinal ticket for The Basketball Africa League (BAL) in a tense game that ended 88-84.
With 1:23 left on the clock, Omar Obada gave ABC the lead with a jumper but with less than a minute to go, Petro de Luanda leveled the score at 84-84 before Jone Pedro slammed the ball home to give the Angolans a crucial lead in the dying seconds.
The Angolans took it right at the death to be the fourth and final team to qualify for the semi-finals, ending Liz Mills’ ABC fighter’s run.
It was another major test passed by Petro de Luanda who last month closed their Nile Conference with a nail-biting 91-90 win against hosts Al Ahly, who also booked their place in the semifinals on Saturday.
It was an intense game that could have gone either way as the two teams went toe-to-toe but coach Liz Mills put it to experience by the Angolans during the post-game conference
“A little bit of experience, I think. The fact that we’ve put this team together only four days ago I couldn’t be more proud of how they played. At the end of the day, experience mattered,” Mills said.
ABC Fighters, who finished fourth in the Sahara Conference, reinforced the team with Omar Abada, Tylor Ongwae and Ousmane Drame ahead of The BAL and their addition to the squad paid off as the three players combined to 38 points but it was not enough to carry them past the stellar Angolan side.
Five Petro players, led by Carlos Morais, scored in double digits, and Petro benefited from a productive bench, which outscored ABC’s 35-19. Morais was superb from behind the arc, making 4 of his 5 three-point attempts to finish with 18 points.
South Sudan star Ater Majok yet again proved why Petro signed him with five crucial block shots, four in the last quarter, frustrating ABC.
It was a painful evening for Mills who has now lost her second straight BAL Quarter-Finals. The Australian coach blamed their exit on how they finished in the Sahara conference, which made them cross paths with the Angolans. She pointed out that if they had their new additions during the conference games, they would have met a lighter opponent.
“If we had Omar, Tylor and Ousmane in the Sahara Conference we would have finished first; we would have blown Cape Town out in the Quarter-Finals; we would have beaten whoever in the Semi-Finals, and we would have been within the trophy. That’s just the truth.”
In a game played earlier, Senegal’s AS Douanes continued to exhibit superb form after beating Mozambique’s Ferroviário da Beira 93-73 to book a place in the semifinals.
AS Douanes, which swept the Sahara Conference with three straight wins made it four in four in their quest for continental glory. They are now destined to face Petro de Luanda.
Samba Fall, who scored 23 points for AS Douanes in the post game interview that the Senegalese side is looking to challenge for The BAL title, stating that their mission will be to go home with the title.