Kiir, Wang lead ruthless Cobra Sports over Espoir Fukash to improve 1-2
Going down 0-3 in the Nile Conference was never an option for Cobra Sports who trounced Espoir Fukash 108-82 on Wednesday night in Cairo.
The win boosted Cobra Sports’ aspirations to stay in contention for a Basketball Africa League (BAL) playoffs berth in May in Kigali.
The South Sudan champions stepped on the floor with a sense of urgency. They moved the ball at such high pace in the opening quarter that they took shots in less than 20 seconds. Those shots came in different ways and forms: From pull-up shots, floaters, fast-breaks or even pick-and-rolls, Cobra were on a mission for their first BAL win.
24 seconds was the longest Espoir Fukash led in the game.
The Kinshasa-based team scored first through a fadeaway shot by Rolly Fula, but Manyan Kiir seemed to have taken it personally and responded with a lay-up that was followed by a free-throw.
Kiir’s three-point play set the tone for Cobra Sports who went on to lead by as many as 14 points in the first ten minutes of the game.
Kiir was Cobra’s propulsor in that moment of the game, and, by the end of the opening quarter he was the only player to score in double figures with his 12 points.
With Cobra in total control of the game, the 24-year-old forward had a breather in the second quarter, contributing just two more points in four minutes.
Kiir, who played collegiate basketball for four schools – New Mexico State University, Central Baptism College, University of
South Florida and Louisiana State University – finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds, Padiet Wang added 24 points, Nyang Wek came off the bench to contribute 18 points and Jared Harrington added 14 points for Cobra Sports.
Kiir later talked about the win. “We don’t want to go home. We had to come out very aggressive and make a statement from the start of the game. I wanted to emphasise a lot of energy and get us going,” he said.
There was no better way to exemplify Cobra Sports’ sense of urgency than the 58-38 halftime lead. They scored more points in 20 minutes on Wednesday than they had in the 92-56 defeat to Petro de Luanda 24 hours earlier.
Cheered by a group of about hundred South Sudanese fans inside the arena, Cobra looked a totally different team from their previous two games, and Fukash couldn’t keep up with the Juba-based team’s rhythm.
“We love them. They are behind us. They are the best supporters in the world, and I stand by that hundred percent,” Wang pointed out.
He added: “We knew coming to this game, this was the most important for us. We had to win this game. Now the next one is also the most important game.”
Meanwhile, Espoir Fukash head coach Raven Khonde explained the reasons behind his team’s defeat.
He said: “One of the reasons to this defeat was the fact that defensively our team still has some lapses. We allowed too many three-points. These are things that we need to fix. Fukash dropped to 0-2 while Cobra improved to 1-2.