Cape Town Tigers Upset FUS Rabat to Secure Spot in BAL Semifinals

Read in 3.27 mintues

Cape Town Tigers upset top-seeded FUS Rabat in overtime.
Samkelo Cele’s buzzer-beater forced the game into overtime.
Tigers advanced to BAL Semifinals for the first time.
Sibanyoni set a BAL rebounding record with 25 boards.

In a season marked by intense competition and thrilling encounters, few could have predicted the stunning upset that unfolded on Sunday night at BK Arena in Kigali. The Cape Town Tigers, entering the Quarterfinals as the eighth seed, defied expectations by defeating the top-seeded FUS Rabat 91-88 in an electrifying overtime battle. This victory not only sent shockwaves through the 2024 BAL season but also marked a significant milestone for South African basketball.

Underdogs Rise to the Occasion
The Tigers’ journey to the BAL Semifinals, a first in their history after three previous attempts, is a testament to their resilience and determination. Facing a formidable FUS Rabat team, the Tigers showcased their ability to perform under pressure. The Moroccan champions, known for their dominance, found themselves trailing by ten points (80-70) late in the fourth quarter. However, they managed to rally and take a three-point lead (83-80) with just two seconds remaining.

Cele’s Clutch Performance
In a dramatic twist, Samkelo Cele emerged as the hero for the Tigers, sinking a crucial buzzer-beater to send the game into overtime. Cele’s performance was nothing short of spectacular, finishing with a game-high 30 points. His composure and skill in the dying moments of regulation were pivotal in turning the tide in favor of the Tigers.

Overcoming Adversity
The Tigers faced significant challenges throughout the game. Key players like Cartier Diarra, Ngor Manyang, and Abdoulaye Ndoye were each saddled with four fouls by the end of the fourth quarter. Despite this, the team maintained their composure, demonstrating remarkable discipline and teamwork to stay in contention for the BAL title.

Adding to their challenges, guard Dhieu Deng suffered an injury that required medical attention after a collision with an opponent. The game was halted for about ten minutes as Deng was stretchered off, a moment that could have disrupted the Tigers’ momentum. However, the team rallied together, showcasing their depth and resilience.

Team Effort and Individual Brilliance
While Cele’s heroics were a highlight, the victory was truly a team effort. Cartier Diarra contributed 15 points, and Ngor Manyang added 13 points off the bench. Tigers’ center Nkosinathi Sibanyoni played a crucial role, scoring 16 points and setting a BAL rebounding record with 25 boards. Sibanyoni’s dominance on the glass was a decisive factor, as he noted, “They beat us twice because they out-rebounded us. This time around, we had to get more rebounds and score the ball.”

FUS Rabat’s Response and Reflection
For FUS Rabat, the loss was a bitter pill to swallow. Despite Aliou Diarra’s impressive performance, recording his fourth double-double of the season with 18 points and 16 rebounds, the Moroccan champions fell short. Teenager Mohamed Sylla, a product of the BAL Elevate Program, also made a significant impact with 15 points and 11 rebounds. However, Jonathan Jordan’s subpar performance proved costly.

Reflecting on the defeat, FUS Rabat guard Soufiane Benmhine, who scored 10 points off the bench, remarked, “At this stage of the competition there are no easy games. We beat them twice in their home-court in South Africa, but they beat us here in Kigali. It’s a tough loss because we believe that we are one of the best teams in the league.”

Looking Ahead
With this historic win, the Cape Town Tigers advance to face Al Ahly Ly in the Semifinals, carrying the hopes of South African basketball fans. For FUS Rabat, the focus shifts back to the Moroccan Championship as they aim to regroup and reclaim their dominance.

Key performances during the match

Samkelo Cele of Cape Town Tigers scored a game-high 30 points, including a buzzer-beater to force overtime.
Nkosinathi Sibanyoni of Cape Town Tigers recorded 16 points and set a BAL rebounding record with 25 boards.
Cartier Diarra of Cape Town Tigers contributed 15 points despite being in foul trouble by the end of the fourth quarter.
Aliou Diarra of FUS Rabat achieved his fourth double-double of the season with 18 points and 16 rebounds.
Teenager Mohamed Sylla of FUS Rabat made a significant impact with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *