The game between Air Warriors and Customs had been dubbed the headline game of the Savannah Conference, as both Abuja-based teams share the title of favourites to top the conference.
NAN reports that it did not take long before the game came alive at the Indoor Sports Hall of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
In the first quarter, Air Warriors drew the first blood with Chinwe Okah blowing away Customs’ defence to register the first point of the game.
Murjanatu Musa then showed exciting pieces of basketball skills to add to Warriors’ points through a couple of offensive rebounds.
However, Customs were not labelled favourites in the Savannah Conference for nothing, as Josette Anaswen led their resistance with her pace and power-play.
An exciting end-to-end first quarter ended 18-14 points in favour of Air Warriors.
Musa picked up where she stopped for Air Warriors in the second quarter. This time, she had in Omaga Olivia a lethal partnership which terrorised Customs’ defence.
But an unrelenting Anaswen always looked dangerous in Warriors’ territory, but she was let down on occasions by the sluggish play of her teammates.
At the end of the quarter, Air Warriors added 14 points against Customs’ nine to maintain a 32-23 points lead at halftime.
Coach Abdulrahman Mohammed of Customs tweaked his tactical approach to the game in the third quarter, which gave Abimbola Olumodeji more freedom and Anaswen better support in attack.
Customs knew that needed to peg back the rampaging Warriors.
However, Musa teamed up with Hope Olisenedozie for some fantastic baskets. Olisenedozie was particularly impressive in the quarter, scoring two quick-fire three-pointers.
The quarter was delayed for some minutes due to Mohammed’s apprehension about a purported foul on one of his players.
The quarter, however, ended with Warriors maintaining their lead by 55-36 points.
The fourth quarter was all Nigeria Customs’ had to stage a comeback and Theresa Dangousu led the attempt.
However, Air Warriors were up to the task and never really let down their guard, as there was still time for one more counter attack before the final buzzer.
It ended 73-55 in favour of in-form Air Warriors, who will next file out against Taraba Hurricanes on Monday.
Coach Samson Sotuminu told the Nigeria News Agency after the game that team spirit and playing to instruction were the secret of his team’s success.
“As soon as we beat Customs in the second phase of the league, we knew we had conquered our fear.
“My players are like sisters and they look after one another. The togetherness in their midst is so unreal. They also always listen to instructions,” he said.
Musa put up another top-of-the-shelf performance for Warriors, scoring 19 points, two assists and 19 rebounds.
And her coach reserved a special praise for her.
“Murjanatu is a special player. With her quality she should be completing at the very top level of basketball in the globe. She is a fantastic player who only does her talking on the court,” Sotuminu said.
Okah was however the top performer in the game with 22 points and 12 rebounds for Air Warriors, while Customs’ Anaswen closely followed with 21 points, five assists and 6 rebounds.
Customs will attempt to keep their dream of a National Eight slot alive when they take on Black Gold Queens. (NAN)
Edited by Dorcas Jonah/Sadiya Hamza