On the night that Dakar Université Club (DUC) secured their first win in the Sahara Conference, an unexpected hero rose to the occasion in front of an enthusiastic home crowd.
Adama Diakhite came off the bench to do whatever was necessary to save DUC’s face.
In a game that registered eight lead changes, Diakhite powered DUC with 30 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks and two steals to help DUC bounce back from two straight defeats and improve their record to 1-2.
Three DUC players – Hameed Ali, Abel Diop and Bamba Diallo – combined for 40 points.
DUC outrebounded REG 49-38 and they benefited from a productive bench which outscored REG’s bench 45-22.
“I loved the way he played tonight,” said Diallo.
“Coach was trying to set plays for other players, I said: ‘No. Let him [Diakhite] get the ball because he’s going off. They can’t guard him right now, even though he had four fouls.”
REG center Pitchou Manga recognised their defeat in the paint, saying: “One of the reasons we lost tonight was our bigs didn’t do too well.”
DUC’s tireless fans showed up in big numbers, and, the team felt that they had to deliver.
“It was just incredible. Every day they leave their houses to come here and support us, we had to win this game for them. We don’t care who comes next. We are just going to try to win the game,” said DUC’s Thierno Niang.
“It was a do-or-die game for us. After losing two straight, to come here and get this win, that was big. That means our head is still above the water. We still can do it.“
Adonis Filer led the way for REG by contributing a team-high 23 points, Dieudonne Ndizeye added 14 points, Cleveland Thomas Jr. finished with 16 points and Jean Jacques Nshobozwabyosenumukiza contributed 11 points off the bench.
“We expected them to come out and fight. We didn’t expect an easy game. We’re going back to the hotel, watch film and prepare for our next game,” noted REG’s Head Coach Robert Pack.
Diallo explained how being 0-2 affected the team’s morale.
“We had a players-only gathering. We had this little talk and we said that this game was the most important game of our lives. If we don’t win it, it’s probably over. You can’t go three losses and try to bounce back. This is a tough competition.
“We needed this one tonight to put ourselves back in the race [for a playoff spot].
“We played a lot of good defense. We moved the ball and (that) helped us a lot to win this ball game.”
BASKETBALL AFRICA LEAGUE’S SAHARA CONFERENCE GAMES – March 11 Game Recap:
AS Salé vs. US Monastir 90-96
DUC vs. REG 92-86
2:00 p.m. GMT – SLAC vs. CFV-Beira
5:30 p.m. GMT – US Monastir vs DUC