APR men basketball club brought their 14-year title jinx to an end after Friday night’s 80-68 Game 4 victory over Rwanda Energy Group (REG) at BK Arena completed a commanding sweep in the best-of-seven playoff finals to be crowned 2023 basketball league champions.
The army side have now booked their slot into the 2024 Basketball Africa League (BAL).
In an intense game that attracted thousands of supporters for both sides, APR came into the game as favorites given the fact that they had dominated REG in the first three games in what looked like a one-sided final series.
The players, and fans alike, came inside the arena with nothing in their mind other than win the game and lift the championship.
And it was Mazen Trakh’s men who were in control of the game when they put massive pressure on Dean Murray’s side to take a 33-26 lead at halftime.
Back from the halftime break, APR continued to lead the game, winning the third quarter 22-20 and the last one 25-22 to take home the win leading REG 80-68 at fulltime.
Star power forward Axel Mpoyo again starred for APR when he scored a game high 25 points while teammates Demarcus Holland and Jean Jacques Wilson Nshobozwabyosenumukiza contributed 14 and 13 points respectively.
Meanwhile, point guard Adonis Filer topped REG’ scorings with 20 points while power forward Beleck Bell Engelbert and center Pitchou Manga posted 16 and 11 points respectively.
Mpoyo was crowned the Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the Playoffs 2022/23 Rwanda Basketball League season as a reward of his stellar performances during the playoffs.
The player is now part of a new group that handed APR the championship that the club has been waiting for many years.
Asked what it means to win the coveted championship with the army side, he told Times Sport that, “I love it, we are out here, we just won the 2023 RBL finals. It’s a great feeling, we put in a lot of work to get here and I think we deserve it,” Said Axel Mpoyo.
This is APR’s 14th championship and it’s now thanks to the exploits of new head coach Mazen Trakh, the American man who outplayed both Herny Mwinuka and his Patriots in the semifinals and Dean Muarray’s REG with commanding sweeps.
Trakh admits he won the league because he had a conplete team which had what it takes to win it.
” When I came to Rwanda, they told me that we had a very good team. You know what? They were off. We had a great team, and tonight I couldn’t be happier for these 15 players,”
“They deserve all the credit, everything they did. I am so proud of these guys, and I’ll remember this the rest of my life,”Trakh said.
Trophy Record: APR has won the national championship in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009 and 2023.
Past champions since 2009
2011: Kigali Basketball Club
2010: Kigali Basketball club
Source: The Newtimes Rwanda