US Monastir reaffirmed its credentials as a Basketball Africa League title contender after trouncing Rivers Hoopers of Nigeria 99-70 on Thursday.
It was the Monastir-based team's second blowout after beating GNBC 113-66 on Tuesday night. It was a one-sided affair from start to finish with US Monastir leading by as many as 32 points.
The Tunisians excelled on both ends of the court, scoring 45 points on 3-pointers and forcing 19 turnovers.
At times, it seemed as if Mourad El Mabrouk, Christopher Crawford and Radhouane Slimane were having a three-point contest. Slimane powered Monastir with a team-best 23 points, including a 6-for-9 from long range. El Mabrouk added 11 points and Crawford scored 8.
"Cohesion has been a key factor on our team. We know each other well. We won today, but there is a long way to go to the title game," said Slimane, who was left devastated four years ago when he and his US Monastir team finished third in the 2017 FIBA Africa Champions Cup.
"We are now focused on this season of the BAL, that's our focus," the 6'8" small forward said.
Safouen Ferjani, the man who coached US Monastir to the Tunisian League and Tunisian Cup championships last month, and is now serving as an assistant coach, reminded everyone that Thursday's win was just another step toward their goal.
"We did a great job, but we want the first place in the group," Ferjani said.
"Every game is very important," he said when asked whether the team was planning on resting some key players now that they secured a playoff berth.
"We are here [to win the title]. We are not thinking about the quarterfinal or semifinals. Our focus for now is going to be on our next opponents [Patriots Basketball Club].
"They are a great team and we need to be ready for them. There are many favourite teams in this tournament. We are not the only ones. But we have to improve our defense."
Meanwhile, Rivers Hoopers dropped to 0-2 ahead of its final Group A game against GNBC of Madagascar.
"We are getting better as team. We are going to be much better on our next game," Hoopers head coach Ogoh Odaudu insisted.
"It was a tough game. US Monastir is one of the better teams in the tournament right now."
Reflecting on his team's future in the tournament, Odaudu noted, "Of course, there is hope [to qualify for the next round]." "Our next game is not going to be easy. We have to come out and fight. It would be a great disservice to underrate the team from Madagascar. They have shown that they can play.
"We have to do double the work to come out victorious. We have two days to prepare. Now we are going to eat, sleep and think GNBC."
Chris Daniels and Ben Uzoh, the only Hoopers players to score in double digits, combined for 45 points. Daniels finished with a game-high 25 points and 11 rebounds.