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Police continue search for first win

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By Oluwafemi Adefeso
Newly promoted Police Baton continued their search for a first win in the Kwesé Premier Basketball League after two games as they fell to Customs Basketball Club 69-74 in an intriguing paramilitary derby in Lagos.  

The Emeka Oputa-led Police Baton drew first blood, taking an early 5-2 lead. But Customs soon settled their nerves running with a 17-11 score to close the first quarter.

Points were at a premium in a stalemated second quarter which ended tied at 19-19, ensuring Customs maintained their six-point advantage going into half-time.

Sophomore guard Okiki Afuape proved the most confident Border Boy, nailing a career-high 18 points and dishing three assists alongside experienced forward Ibrahim Okpe, whose jump shots produced 12 points off 10 field-goal attempts.

It was that strong third-quarter display, won 22-14 by Customs, which helped seal the nervy win, and compensated for the late fightback by Police Baton for whom Babatunde Yinusa led the scoring with 17 points, adding four steals to his second-consecutive eye-catching display in yet another loss.

It was a win that satisfied Customs assistant coach Mohammed Abba.

“We recruited so well this year because we want to dominate the Atlantic Conference like we did last season. We are on track, getting our first win today,”  he told KweséSports.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Second-year diminutive guard Okiki Afuape pulled off a career-high 18 points, three assists, two rebounds and two steals. Surely one to watch.

KEY STATS

* Customs had a Kwesé Premier League record 17 assists in this game, beating Hoops and Read’s record of 14 in their game against NAF Rockets.

* Both teams picked the same number of rebounds – 36 apiece. Customs edged Police by one rebound on defence, and Police returned the favour by the same margin (one) on offensive rebounds.

* Both teams made free-throws look easy. They had three players each who were 100 percent from the line, five players across both sides who shot 75 percent and another five recording 50 percent. No one on either team shot below 50 percent in the game.

* Police Baton won the fourth quarter 25-16, but still lost the game – their second loss in a row after losing to Hoops and Read.

* Babatunde Yinusa played more minutes than anyone else across both teams on the night: 35:04 minutes. It is the second time he leads the Police in minutes played in only his second premier league season.

* Yinusa also improved on his career high just two games into the season scoring 17 points, one point more than on Thursday.


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