Kano Pillars Basketball Club clinched their fourth DSTV Premier Basketball League (PBL) title by a narrow victory over Mark Mentors in the final match of the 2013/14 season’s Final 8 playoffs on Saturday.
Adeolu Olaiya Ojo of Kano Pillars headlined the dying minutes triumph at the indoor sports hall of the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, after denying Mentors the chance of winning a first PBL title in the closing nine seconds.
Mentors, leading by four points (88-84)- with 21 seconds of the game to spare- were within grasp of a first Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) league title, when they allowed the Pillars guard slalom their defence on a fast break to record two points with a dunk.
Ojo followed that up with a steal from Mark Mentors’ hasty ball-inbound to set-up Abubakar Usman who made an awesome three-point with just three seconds remaining.
Efforts by Mentors to draw a late foul or two points failed to yield result as the close contest ended 89-88 (20-25, 21-19, 20-18 and 28-26) in favour of Pillars.
The thrilling finally was not spared of some controversy, with referee Tunde Popoola cancelling Mentors’ Musa Usman’s point at the end of the game as time expired before the guard could get the ball in the basket.
Match-winner, Usman, went home with a second consecutive Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the Final 8 award, recording another play-off high of 38 points, 5 steal, 4 rebound and 4 assist in 35.27 minutes.
Nda’ Abu as he is popularly called 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 retain it third spot with a 81-71 points (08-16, 14-22, 18-15, 27-14 and 04-14) victory over Gombe Bulls after over-time after both sides ended the game at 67 points apiece at regulation time .