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Editorials, Sports

Hoopers Find Brotherhood and Culture: Perry & Offia Discuss Historic BAL Run

American import Will Perry and Nigerian prospect Abel Offia discuss Rivers Hoopers’ historic BAL run, brotherhood, and cultural exchange.

  • Toyosi Afolayan
  • 15th June 2024

After four years of battling it out in the Basketball Africa League (BAL), a Nigerian team finally had a good outing. Rivers Hoopers etched their name in the history books. Despite their domestic league facing ongoing challenges, the Hoopers defied the odds, becoming the first Nigerian team to win a staggering four games at the BAL and secure a coveted medal.


The 2024 BAL season was a hard-fought affair, with Angola’s Petro de Luanda ultimately emerging victorious after a decisive win against Libya’s Al Ahly in the championship final. But Rivers Hoopers stole the show for Nigerians, showcasing grit on the continental stage.


To get the inside scoop on this historic achievement, BOUNCE caught up with two members of the Hoopers squad – American import Will Perry and homegrown talent Abel Offia. 



American point guard Will Perry, a veteran of European and African leagues since 2016, played a pivotal role in Rivers Hoopers’ historic run at the 2024 BAL season. Signed in February 2024, his experience proved instrumental in the Nigerian team finally reaching the playoffs and clinching a remarkable third-place finish.


Finding Brotherhood and Purpose with Rivers Hoopers


As a key figure on the team, Perry spoke about the camaraderie within the Nigerian-heavy squad. “It felt great,” he said. “Just being part of a team, a group that came together and achieved something big – that was amazing.”


Perry, who earned a coveted spot on the 2024 BAL All-First Team, also shed light on his decision to join Rivers Hoopers despite the team not being a traditional powerhouse like Zamalek or Al Ahly.


“Previously playing in Rwanda,” he explained, “my contract restricted me to teams in the Saharan Conference. So, I had only four options, if they wanted me. Luckily, Rivers Hoopers approached me, and I was fortunate in that sense.”


But the American’s motivation went beyond mere luck. “Secondly,” he continued, “I wanted to be part of something, a change. I’d heard negativity about Nigerian basketball, and I thought, ‘Let’s do something.’ I know plenty of talented Nigerian players and managers, so let’s silence the doubters.”


Sharpshooting Prowess and Embracing Nigerian Culture


Perry, renowned for his three-point shooting, showcased his talents throughout the season. He tied the BAL record for most points in a single game and shattered the record for most three-pointers made, dropping a staggering 41 points with 9 threes in Beira’s 2023 BAL win.



“It’s just years and years of practice and hard work,” Perry said modestly when asked about his shooting prowess. “You gotta stay calm when you shoot, that’s all.”


Beyond basketball, the BAL season offered Perry a unique cultural experience. “Nigerian culture is the most interesting I’ve encountered,” he shared. “Everyone’s always joking, talking super aggressively with each other, which I love. And the dancing! Whenever music starts, everyone gets up to dance. The guys, like Abel, tried to teach me dancing, Pidgin English, and how to eat Jollof Rice – that was a must-try. Those were definitely some of my best moments.”


Abel Offia discussed his limited time on the court. The Stephen Curry-inspired youngster disclosed that he had a lot to learn at the Basketball Africa League instead of complaining about game time.


“I learned a lot during the BAL, from the coaching staff to the players. Players like Will Perry, Eke, John, David, Peter and the like. They kept talking to us (home-based players), trying to put us into the game. I could remember a couple of times, Will came to me and said, ‘Yo, Abel, stay ready, you’ve got to stay focused’. That actually motivated me, despite being on the bench. It is a whole lot of experience for me.”



When asked about what it is like playing alongside foreign-based folks like Perry and Divine. The 19-year-old talked about their versatility, both on and off the court.


“It’s so exciting to play with them. They’re fun to be with, cracking jokes on and off the court. However, when it’s time for Basketball, they take off the jokes and focus. The fact that our management brought these cool-headed guys really helped us.”

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