Defending champions Kano Pillars overcame a slow start to beat Mark Mentors 76-69 points at the FIBA Africa Zone 3 qualifiers on Sunday in Lagos.
Abubakar Usman led the way with 21 points and 4 assists while Abdul Yahaya added 14 points and 10 rebounds in the game. Mark Mentors with just 5 players without a bench, edged Pillars who had a slow start in the first quarter 23-22. Consequently, Mentors played without making substitutions all through the game.
Ocheibi Okpe had 26 points and 8 rebounds at the end of the first half while Usman scored 18 points, 6 of 9 from the arc going to the break.
Despite taking a four points lead into the third quarter (38-34), Pillars struggled to extend the lead. The last 2 minutes of the third was tied trice but the legendary Usman hit a 3 point shot with 7 seconds left. (50-53).
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The brilliant Okpe with a double-double finished with a game high 35 points and 10 rebounds. In total, Mentors made just 12/20 from the free throw line which would have given them an advantage in the game. Both sides struggled late in the game with Mentors committing more turnovers (43) in a game the defending champions of zone 3, Pillars, were poor on shooting 32/76.