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April 22, 2022

Highlights of the 2022 Nile Conference

Over the last two weeks, the majestic Dr Hassan Moustafa Sports Hall in Cairo was the focal point of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) Nile Conference that witnessed a number of exciting games.

After 15 games, four teams clinched their tickets for the BAL playoffs in May in Kigali, while two others were eliminated.

Here are the highlights of the 2022 Nile Conference.

Ganapamo rescues Cape Town Tigers

When Cape Town Tigers looked destined to their third straight defeat, Evans Ganapamo came up with a heroic performance.

The Tigers were on the ropes when a cold-blooded Ganapamo hit a three-pointer with 2.2 seconds left to lift them to a 73-70 victory against FAP.

The win relaunched the Tigers’ chase of a playoffs spot.

Almeida sets Nile Conference record for most three-points

Cape Verde international player Joel Almeida made his BAL debut in style against Espoir Fukash.

The left-handed shooting guard was 7-for-12 from beyond the arc to finish with a game-high of 23 points to help FAP beat Fukash 77-60.

It was the most 3pts made by a player in a single Nile Conference game. After the game FAP head coach Francois Enyegue hailed Almeida’s effort. “He has become of us. He is fully integrated in the team. Tonight, he won one final for us,” Enyegue said.

Zamalek extend BAL winning streak to 11-0

At the end of the Nile Conference, the BAL reigning champions Zamalek extended their winning streak to 11-0.

After winning the inaugural BAL season undefeated in six games, Zamalek remain as the only team never to taste defeat in the history of the competition.

Biggest comeback in the BAL history

Fighting for their BAL honour on the last day, Fukash fought back a 22-point before outscoring the Tigers 11-6 in the extra five minutes to win 96-92. The win helped Fukash finish 1-4. It was the biggest comeback in the BAL history.

Zamalek fans

One of the Nile Conference’s highlights was the way Zamalek fans supported their heroes.

They showed up at Dr Hassan Moustafa Sports Hall in considerable numbers for most of Zamalek’s five games, and made a tremendous difference. Even with Zamalek already qualified for the playoffs after four games, head coach Will Voigt noted that fans deserved to witness the best of their team. "We could have just played our bench and rest everybody, but Zamalek, what we represent, is more important than that,” Voigt said.

BAL Elevate Program standouts

As part of the BAL Elevate program Emmanuel Okorafor featured for Espoir Fukash and Ulrich Chomche played for FAP in the Nile Conference.

Nigeria teen Okorafor made the most of the opportunity suiting up for DR Congo champions.

It was a breakthrough season for 17-year-old Okorafor who averaged 9.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 24 minutes per game, the highest figures for any BAL Elevate Program player.

Okorafor also registered three double-doubles in five games. Another teenager that grabbed the highlights was 16-year-old Ulrich Chomche. FAP’s wonderkid Chomche was huge in the 71-64 win over Cobra Sports.

Four major blocks, one dunk, two steals, three rebounds and six points in 11:48 minutes off the bench was the 6-foot-9’s contribution.

Chomche, a BAL Elevate player, caught the attention of his NBA Academy Africa coach Roland Houston.

“Ulrich did what he was supposed to do, in what he is capable of doing, which is defend the rim, defend the basket. He did a good job of that, and we are extremely proud of him,” Houston said in after the game.

With the Nile Conference done and dusted, attentions turn now to the playoffs next month.

With a 5-0 mark in the Nile, Zamalek will be able to try to defend their BAL title.

Petro de Luanda finished second in the Cairo showdown ahead of Cape Town Tigers (2-3) and FAP (2-3). Espoir Fukash and Cobra Sports were eliminated from the playoffs contention.