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Kano Pillars, Gombe Bulls renew rivalry in Final 8 showdown

A basketball goes through a hoop Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Savannah Conference rivals Kano Pillars and Gombe Bulls have both qualified for the finals of the 2017 Kwesé Premier Basketball League Final 8.

In the deciding semifinal games played on Thursday at the Kofamata Arena, both teams defeated their respective Atlantic Conference opponents to qualify for continental competitions, as well as earn a chance to win the N20million prize money awarded to the Final 8 winners.

In the first semifinal, home team and favourites Kano Pillars defeated Kwara Falcons 69-59 to clinch a spot in the final.

Kano Pillars cruised to victory courtesy of a seven-point lead with 4:11 left on the clock in the first quarter, but Kwara Falcons, to their credit, rallied back, as the quarter eventually ended 18-16 in favour of Kano Pillars.

Pillars won the second quarter 35-31, the third quarter 54-49, before earning well-deserved 10-point victory.

Pillars pair Abubakar Usman and Nwafor Joseph were the game's star players. Usman led the scoring with 24 points, while Joseph completed the game's only double-double, scoring 10 points and 11 rebounds.

In the second semifinal, Gombe Bulls defeated Hoops and Read 78-77 in a keenly-contested game.

Gombe Bulls showed all of their experience to win the first quarter 21-18, Hoops won the second quarter 45-44, and both teams tied 61-61 in the third quarter, before Gombe earned victory in the fourth quarter 78-77.

Hoops and Reads player Mustapha Oyebanji netted a game-high 27 points, while Gombe Bulls duo oKator Gar and Sylvanus Yakubu both finished with 11 rebounds and 15 points.

Despite the loss, kudos must be given to debutants Hoops and Read, who ruffled quite a number of feathers in getting to the Final 8 semifinal in their first year in the top division.

The final will be a repeat of the Group A game involving Kano Pillars and Gombe United on Monday, a game which ended 83-80 in favour of Gombe Bulls.