Tunisian defending champions US Monastir comfortably beat Stade Malien 78-68 in their debut in the Sahara Conference of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) on Sunday at the Dakar Arena in Senegal.
In the opening game, played on Saturday, the Senegalese As Douanes were beaten by the Ivorians of Abidjan Basket Club Fighters on the score of (76-70).
The Tunisians of USM have perfectly controlled their Malian opponents. Novices in this competition, the Bamako team paid for their lack of experience.
"I think they were more experienced than us but we have nothing to be ashamed of in our defeat. I think this game will be a good lesson and it will make us grow," said experienced Moroccan international winger John Wilkins.
A lesson was also in store for Kwara Falcons. The Nigerians were thrashed 64-48 by Rwanda Energy Group and will be looking to bounce back in the next round.
The premiere of the third season of the BAL was ultimately marked by very few surprises in Dakar Arena, Senegal.
The small surprise was perhaps the defeat of the Senegalese team of AS Douanes by the Abidjan team of ABC. The Gabelous lost by their clumsiness in the shots, their absence in defense and their feverishness in the rebounds. These mistakes were dearly paid for by a very diligent opponent.
"We can only blame ourselves, we missed too many easy baskets. And then, we were dominated at times on the inside game. We didn't rebound as we should have. We took 22 points on counter-attacks, we will have to change our attitude for the coming games", warns Mamadou Guèye.
The second day of the Sahara Conference of the BAL 2023 starts this Tuesday. On the program,there will be a clash of the defeated between Kwara Falcons of Nigeria and Stade Malien de Bamako (16:00 GMT).