ABUBAKAR Usman was the star of the final game in the DStv Premier Basketball League against Mark Mentors, as his three point shot in the closing minutes handed his team an 89-88 point victory.
He was adjudged the Most Valuable Player (MVP), the second in a row,
and he also picked the highest scorer award with 138 points in five
games, while Mark Mentors' forward Abdul Yahaya went home with the
highest rebounder award.
Pillars also became the first team to win four titles in the
six-season-old league after edging Mentors in a nail-bitting finale.
The thrilling final, kept fans on the edge of their seat as the
Abuja-based Mentors looked set to do the impossible leading by four
points (88-84) with nine seconds left. However, lost concentration in
the dying moments of the encounter, allowing Pillars energetic point
guard, Adeolu Olaiya Ojo to go on a fast-break for two points and an
hasty ball-inbound cost them (Mark Mentors) the game as Ojo incepted a
pass to set-up Pillars main-man, Usman who made a three-point with three
Efforts by Mentors to draw a foul or make two points did not yield
result as the buzzer went off to signal the end of the game. Scores in
the four quarters stood at 20-25, 21-19, 20-18 and 28-26.
Usman recorded the play-off high of 38 points, 5 steal, 4 rebound and
4 assist in 35.27 minutes and was joined in double figure by the duo of
Ibrahim Yusuf (11 points, 3 rebounds) and Adeolu Olaiya Ojo (10 points
and 3 steal) to hand Pillars the trophy.
Dodan Warriors retained it third position with an 81-71 points
(08-16, 14-22, 18-15, 27-14 and 04-14) victory over Gombe Bulls after
over-time with both sides garnering 67 points in regulation time.
Meanwhile, the president of the Nigerian Basketball Federation (NBBF)
Tijjani Umar said umpire Tunde Popoola got the decision to cancel the
final basket scored by Mark Mentors right.
After he and the chairman of Mark Mentors, Mark Igoche came out of
the OB van of TV right owners SuperSport to review the dying seconds of
the epic final match.
"From the replay, it was clear that Musa Usman still had possession
of the ball as time expired. The referee dully indicated that, and from
the video footage I and Igoche saw, the referee got the decision right".
Controversy ensued at the venue when Popoola cancelled Mark Mentors
Usman's basket at the end of the game. Mentors, who led all through the
game, led by 4 points with 21 seconds to go. However there was a
dramatic twist of fortune when Pillars took the lead by one point, 89-88
points with 5 seconds left on the clock. With the championship title
still at stake, Mark Mentors pushed to score within the time left. They
did score, but it was too late as time expired before they could get the
ball in the basket.