ASABAÂ (Zenith Bank female premier league) - Players of Dolphins basketball club broke down in tears after they lost a closely contested game 89-84 to the Sunshine Angels basketball club of Akure on day four of the 2007 Zenith Bank League in Asaba on Monday.
Dolphins tied the game at 81-81, but defensive frailities cost the Wale Aboderin girls the game down the stretch.
Offensively, Dolphins started losing the cause in the third quarter, missing foul shots and failing to bury their long-range jumpers.
Although the Angels ran into foul problems in the fourth quarter, Dolphins was not able to capitalise on this from the foul line.
"I had to protect my girls," said Aboderin. "The referees were not doing their job properly and allowed the Angels players to knock down my players at will.
This demoralised them and made them to miss easy shots on the foul line."
The coach of the Angels, Andrew Isokpehi, said they prepared very well for the game.
"We have been watching their games since the beginning of the competition and we saw their weak points and instructed the players to capitalise on them," said the former Ebun Comets handler.
"The players played to instruction and that gave us the victory.
"I think Dolphins played well but they came into the game over confident. That really affected them."
Both managers saluted the quality of the game, held in the indoor hall of the Delta State Sports Council.
The crowd cheered endlessly for both teams in the game, which saw the duo exchanging the lead up to six times starting from late in the third quarter.
The Angels first caught up with Doplhins at 58-58 with seconds left, but Dolphins stormed back to lead by two points.
The Angels refused to go away and combination guard Rach Amadi buried a game-tying shot at the buzzer to end the third quarter 60-60.
Three mathces are still on the bill for the day-four of the second leg of the 3rd Zenith Bank female premier holding at the Indoor Sports of the Asaba Township Stadium with two Savannah conference teams Immigration taking on AHIP, Amazons will attempt to record an upset against Customs while defending champions, First Bank Elephant Girls will take to the court against the home team Delta Force in what look like the star-match of the day.
Four matches will be decided Tuesday in the round-robin format of the league with AHIP testing the night of wounded Dolphins basketball club, Scott Nnaji will file out his girls against First Bank, Delta Force will bank on home support to rattle Sunshine Angels while Amazons will want to repeat its superiority over Immigration as both side engage each other in a survival battle.
Dolphins 93-68 Immigration
First Bank 91-37 AHIP
Customs 67-58 Sunshine Angels
Delta Force 63-53 Amazons
Customs 58-41 AHIP
First Bank 93-44 Immgration
Sunshine 64-58 Amazons
Dolphins 90-82 Delta Force
Customs 79-64 Immigration
Dolphins 103-78 Amazons
First Bank 82-58 Sunshine Angels
Delta Force 96-51 AHIP
By Olusegun Ikuesan
FIBA Official Correspondent in Nigeria