BAL: Reigning champs Zamalek look to stay unbeaten vs. Cape Town Tigers

BAL Day 10: Zamalek vs. Cape Town

Cape Town Tigers head coach Relton Booysen has acknowledged that trying to beat Nile Conference hosts Zamalek on Tuesday won’t be an easy task, but he vowed to stick to his team’s game plan.

He made the remarks in the aftermath of Cape Town’s 90-61 defeat to Petro de Luanda on Sunday night, a game that revealed the uphill task that the South African champions face against the Basketball Africa League (BAL) title holders.

Against Petro, Booysen’s team could only score 33.3 percent of their field goals – the second lowest in the Nile Conference so far – and finished 8-for-15 from the free-throw line, but what the Tigers lacked offensively, they had to spare on the defensive end, recording 12 steals, and stoically kept Petro on the sight for three quarters.

And, if Evans Ganapamo and Nkosinathi Sibanyoni can score and rebound the way they did against Petro de Luanda; If Billy Preston and Jamel Artis return, Myck Kabongo and Pieter Prinsloo can contribute a bit more offensively, and the Cape Town Tigers’ bench can produce, then Zamalek will need to bring their A-game to remain undefeated in the BAL.

As the only team that has never tasted defeat in the history of the BAL (7-0) and playing in front of their home fans, Zamalek are favorites in this clash, but as the team’s leading scorer Ike Diogu has recently admitted, “there’s room for improvement. ”

Anas Mahmoud (10 points 11 rebounds and 7 block shots in Game 1), Diogu an DJ Strawberry has been exceptional for the White Knights, and are expected to spark Will Voigt’s team throughout the Nile Conference.

Diogu went on to elaborate the team’s confidence in the Nile Conference: “It’s definitely an aggressive team, good young players, we have shooters, bigs, the Egyptian big Anas [Mahmoud]. I think we’ll surprise a lot of people. We have guys that can a lot of things. We are like a Swiss Army knife; we can do a little bit of everything. ”

Asked about the homecourt factor, the former NBA player admitted that “There is always going to be pressure. We are the reigning champions; the country expects us to do well. It’s the pressure that we put on ourselves but the pressure also makes diamonds. Good things can come out of pressure. We’re here to win all games. That’s the bottom line. We don’t want to lose any games. All games are going to be tough. ”

For everything that Zamalek represents in the BAL, this is a superb opportunity for Cape Town to make history if they beat the Egyptian champions.

BAL Day 10: Petro de Luanda vs. Cobra Sport

Four more games to win, that’s the mindset inside Petro de Luanda’s locker room ahead of their second game in the Nile Conference on Tuesday against Cobra Sports.

Ever since the Angolan champions finished third last year, they self-proclaim Basketball Africa League (BAL) title contenders, and the 90-61 win against Cape Town Tigers on Sunday night was what they call “the start of our goal of winning every game in our Conference and qualify for the playoffs, ”according to head coach Jose Neto.

Although Petro de Luanda opened their Nile Conference campaign with a 29-point win – the biggest winning margin in the tournament so far -, they needed to live their game in the fourth quarter to beat a short-handed Cape Town Tigers, and taking on a combative Cobra Sports will be a tall order, judging by the South Sudanese’s style of play.

Petro de Luanda aims to extend their winning streak to 2-0 while Cobra Sports chase their first win in two games.

“We finished third last season, but this time, we want a little bit more,” insisted Neto who is his second season with the Luanda-based outfit. Cobra Sports play as aggressive defenively as Petro de Luanda. They are not just the tallest team in the Nile Conference, but they can run, jump, shoot the ball and tend to compete until the final buzzer as seen in their first game against hosts Zamalek, an 80-67 defeat that left a bitter taste in a team that can do a lot better.

A thorough look into the numbers reveal interesting differences between former African champions Petro de Luanda and BAL debutant Cobra Sports.

One game into the Nile Conference, Petro de Luanda have comparatively allowed fewer points (61) against Cobra Sports’ 80.

When it comes to the two teams ‘rotations, Petro de Luanda count on a productive bench that can contribute over 30 points while Cobra Sports’ reserves have contributed 20 so far.

Even though Cobra Sports 6-foot-11 center Tom Bush Wamukota, who played a huge role during the Road to BAL qualifiers, hasn’t traveled to Cairo, Cobra Sports has shown a tremendous rebounding ability against Zamalek, out-rebounding the hosts 52 -41.

However, Petro de Luanda has registered a record of 58 rebounds in the Nile Conference after the opening round.

Unless Cobra Sports protect their perimeter line, they might face serious difficulties handling Petro de Luanda’s fast-paced offense. The Angolan champions have attempted more three-pointers (16-46) than twos (16-35).

Carlos Morais emerges as Petro de Luanda’s key weapon offensively. The shooting guard has ignited Petro de Luanda’s offense with a game-high 23 points against Cape Town, and is the man Coach Neto’s team’s rely on critical moments of the game.

“We came here with the goal of winning every game. We’re heading to the next game with the same mindset. Playing aggressive defensively, and improving our offense to get another win, ”Morais said.

Jone Pedro, who contributed eight points and 15 rebounds in Petro de Luanda’s first win, added: “Playing aggressive defensively and fast-breaks helped us win the first game. That’s how we need to play moving to the next game. ”

On the other hand, Mayan Kiir could be the go-to man for Cobra Sports.

A 6-foot-9 forward who can dominate on both ends of the floor, Kiir sparked his team with an impressive 18 points and 22 rebounds against Zamalek.

Cobra Sports head coach Manyang Berberi acknowledged the challenge they face in the Nile Conference, but emphasized that his team is “ready to fight until the last game. We are competitors. We are playing for our beloved country. ”

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