Mali's Association Sportive Police outscored Angola's Petro de Luanda 28-20 in the second quarter of their Basketball Africa League (BAL) debut at Kigali Arena in Rwanda on Tuesday, but that was the best they could offer.
Inspired by Valdelicio Joaquim, Jone Pedro and Childe Dundao, the Angolan champions were relentless in securing a comprehensive 87-66 victory, having led by as many as 30 points.
For much of the game, AS Police were careless in handling the ball and persisted in individual plays rather than team play. On the other hand, former African champions Petro de Luanda played solid and consistent basketball to lead throughout.
Joaquim converted three of his four three-point attempts to finish with 16 points, and Pedro dominated at both ends of the court contributing team highs of 17 points and 17 rebounds.
AS Police's Mamadou Keita led all scorers with 19 points, but he was otherwise helpless as the Luanda-based team was allowed 44 three-point attempts, making 11.
Petro de Luanda head coach Jose Neto said that such a number of three-point attempts was uncharacteristic for his team but they took their chances because "the Malian team allowed us to take those shots."
Petro de Luanda captain Carlos Morais said "we are here in Kigali to fight for the title".
"It's a tough competition, but the best of us is yet to come," Morais said.
AS Police head coach Boubacar Kanoute said that his side had been defeated by "a really experienced team".
"They outplayed us in the paint, but we are going to get ready for our next game," Kanoute said.
Nigerian Jawachi Nzeakor finished with 16 points for AS Police, having played the opening 10 minutes without scoring.
"This is one of toughest competitions outside the NBA, and I feel privileged to be here," Nzeakor said.
AS Police reached the BAL regular season after posting a 4-3 record in the qualifying campaign, but playing at this level, Kanoute said, was "tough, but we're continuing to work for better results".
Allowing Petro de Luanda to attempt 44 three-points wasn't a good sign of AS Police's defence, but being out-rebounded 56-37 was more damaging to their chances of winning their first BAL game.
Petro de Luanda and AS Police both resume their BAL Group B campaign on Thursday, May 20, against FAP and AS Sale respectively.