Childe Dundão, the shortest player in the Basketball Africa League (BAL) playoffs, was a giant on Wednesday as he sparked Petro de Luanda into the Finals.
The 5-foot-7 point guard did everything right to help Petro beat Forces Armées et Police (FAP) 88-74 and become the first team to reach the 2022 BAL Final.
Dundão had a 6-for-12 shooting, including three 3pts to finish with a game-high of 18 points; he dished out four assists, and added 3 steals to his account.
Jone Pedro came up with 14 points and 7 rebounds, Gerson Goncalves Lukeny contributed 13 points, and Yanick Moreira finished with 12 points and 9 rebounds off the bench.
It was Petro de Luanda’s third win over FAP in as many encounters over the last twelve months.
The Angolan champions stepped on the floor with a sense of urgency, but they missed their first three field-goals.
Joel Almeida opened the score with a 3pt, which turned out to be FAP’s first and only lead in the game.
Pedro’s tip-in cut the deficit to 3-2 before Carlos Morais drilled a 3-pt that gave Petro their first lead of the game (5-3).
Almeida’s floater tied it all at 5-5, but that the closest FAP could get to Petro as the Angolan outfit never trailed again.
The Angolan champions instilled a full-court press that resulted on successive FAP’s turnovers (6) by the end of the opening 10 minutes.
Then, Petro embarked on a 15-5 run (20-5) thanks to a combination of 3-pts from Childe Dundão (1) and Goncalves (2), which resulted in Petro’s biggest lead in the half.
Almeida, who scored FAP’s 8 points (20-8) in the opening quarter, converted on free-throw in the third quarter to finish with 9 points.
Petro headed to the locker room with a 46-35 lead.
The third quarter was a one-sided affair as Petro outscored FAP (23-12) to head to the final 10 minutes with a 69-47 lead.
Cedric Kenfack led FAP in scoring with 13 points off the bench, Brice Bidias, Charles Minlend Jr. added 12 points apiece, but their contribution wasn’t good enough to prevent Petro from improving their BAL record to 6-1 before the Championship Game.
“They move the ball very fast, and that made things difficult for us,” Kenfack said in the post-match press conference.
The 30-year-old who has faced the two-time African champions trice dating back to the inaugural BAL, went on saying: “Petro is a very good team that can execute well offensively. It’s always good playing against a great African team like Petro. For us, this has been a learning curve, and, hopefully, we’ll come back next year and try to beat these big teams in Africa.”
Moreira, who is making his BAL debut, acknowledged FAP’s tenacity.
“They are fighters. They have never allowed us to relax during the game. They are doing a great job. Hopefully they can win their next game.”
Moreira explained that Petro’s spot in the finals is highly significant for his country. “This win means a lot, not only for Petro de Luanda, but for basketball in Angola as a whole. It’s been a long time since we last had an Angolan team in the final of major competitions in Africa. This means that Angolan basketball isn’t outdated as some say. We just need to keep on working.”
Talking about Dundão, Moreira said: “Childe is our mascot. We can go as far as he can take us. When he has an inspiring night like this, we are safe.”Petro will face the winner of the semifinal between Zamalek and US Monastir on Saturday while FAP will go up against losing team on Friday.