Rwanda Energy Group (REG) trailed for most of Sunday’s first Sahara Conference game against Association Sportive de Salé of Morocco, but once they turned the game around, they never looked back.
Jean Jacques Nshobozwabyosenumukiza came off the bench to play the hero role after giving his all at both ends of the floor.
The 23-year-old guard not only kept AS Salé leading scorer Terrell Stoglin out of his comfort zone for most of the third quarter, but he also buried the game winning three-pointer with a minute left to help BAL debutant REG upset the former African champions.
Nshobozwabyosenumukiza finished with a 4-for-10 shooting to go with 13 points and six rebounds in 21:48 minutes on the floor.
“It was a very important win because it was the very first BAL game for us. Our team was hungry to get this win. We did a great job as a team,” said Nshobozwabyosenumukiza.
When asked about the challenge of facing Stoglin, the 1.85m (6ft 1in) guard said: “It’s not easy [to defend Stoglin], he is bigger, he has some moves, he can shoot, he can penetrate, but I am a good defender too. I had to make sure that he doesn’t score on me.”
Cleveland Thomas Jr. helped REG with 26 points, and Anthony Walker was sparked the Rwandan champions with 21 points and 8 rebounds.
REG Adonis Filer established a new BAL record with 14 assists and contributed 14 points and four steals.
“It’s a great confidence booster,” he said of the win.
“[Kigali] That’s our ultimate goal. We are taking it game by game, and we took our business against AS Salé.”
Despite the win Adonis admitted: “We needed to get better on defense. They made a lot of threes, especially in transition. We had time to make some adjustments; coach pointed out a lot of our mistakes and we sorted it out.”
Although AS Salé led by as many as 11 points at some stage in the game and they headed to the locker with a 48-46 lead, REG never panicked and an aggressive defense in the second half of the game proved crucial for the Kigali-based team