Cobra Sports stars but Zamalek carries the day in BAL opener
Nigeria international Ike Diogu top-scored for Zamalek in their opening game of the BAL Nile Conference in Cairo, leading the Egyptian side to an 80-63 win over South Sudanese outfit Cobra Sports.
The scoreline was slightly deceptive in that the defending BAL champions were pushed by the youthful South Sudanese side for the majority of the game, and while Cobra never managed to lead the game they were not outclassed in front of a very vocal Cairo crowd.
Zamalek’s experienced players, led by Diogu (17pts) and fellow former NBA player DJ Strawberry (14pts), came to the fore as the fourth quarter progressed to pull the score away from Manny Berberi’s team.
Diogu, who scored 10 of Zamalek’s first 16 points, acknowledged after the game that BAL debutants Cobra were likely tougher than they expected, especially with a close score of 35-28 at the end of the first half.
The D’Tigers captain told ESPN: “It was the first game so we got all the jitters out. It was against a very good team, a very athletic team, and I’m glad we were able to make the adjustments needed.”
Cobra Sports Club touched down in Cairo, Egypt, last week for the Basketball Africa League 2022 (BAL).
It was the first time since independence that the South Sudanese basketball team would be participating in the Basketball Africa League 2022 (BAL).
The South Sudanese giants were in the same group as Egyptian champions, Zamalek, Angola’s Petro Atlético, Congo’s Espoir Fukash, and South Africa’s Cape Town.
They will face Petro Atletico of Angola in the next match.
Before departure, Jidu Riak, the Cobra Sports Club co-captain, affirmed the squad’s readiness for the competition and urged supporters to support the team to provide extra inspiration.
“The team is prepared and ready to confront any team that comes their way. But what we want from our fans is for them to be behind us and provide essential support to the team.
“On the squad’s behaviour, I want to thank everyone for helping the team get to this point from the beginning, especially for taking care of the players, and we urged them to have the same spirit,” the captain continued.