Abuja - Nigeria’s D’Tigers lost 87-96 to Spain on Thursday
to further narrow their chances of squeezing through into the quarter-finals of
Men’s Basketball Event at the Rio Olympics.
The Nigerian side’s last-eight qualification chances at the
Games had always looked an uphill task from the onset, but injuries and sub-par
form have worsened the situation.
The team as was in its opening game against Argentina, was
hit by the absence of inspiration player Olaseni Lawal who got injured.
On Thursday at the Carioca Arena I, D’Tigers needed to win
to strengthen hopes of finishing fourth, after the opening losses to group
leaders Argentina and later to Lithuania.
But another inconsistent performance which saw them winning
the second and third quarters, to lead by a point going into the final quarter,
still ended in another disappointing loss.
Chamberlain Oguchi’s game total haul of 24 points, four
assists and three rebounds, the game’s overall best, was not just enough to
It was however a performance which gave Spain,
silver-medalists at the last two Olympics, an escape and boosted their chances
of a top-four finish and a place in the quarter-finals.
Spain jumped out to an early 16-point lead in the bizarre
setting of an empty Carioca Arena 1 as Federal Police and the Brazilian Army
carried out a controlled explosion.
Also read: D’Tigers suffer defeat to Lithuania
This was after the discovery of a backpack that had been
left near a trash can in a bathroom.
The Spaniards appeared to be cruising, after a 25-11 first
quarter win, but then Nigeria had a huge turnaround and, thanks in large part
to Oguchi's three-point shooting.
Nigeria won the second quarter 30-18 and the third 25-22,
for D'Tigers to take the lead by a point late in the last minute of the third
Spain had hurt themselves when Pau Gasol argued with a
referee about a foul and drew a technical, thus putting Nigeria into the bonus.
Ekene Ibekwe sank two free-throws before Josh Akognon made
the technical free-throw, and Nigeria then took their foot off the throttle.
D’Tigers failed to cash in on this game’s turning point with
Spain in big trouble and Gasol on the bench after picking up his technical.
But Juan-Carlos Navarro started the fourth quarter with a
three-pointer --- one of his three on the night --- before Willie Hernangomez
threw down a dunk.
The Europeans never trailed again after this, even though
Nigeria did twice pull to within a point on Oguchi three-pointers, but with
Spain having an answer each time.
Spain took the lead at the start of the fourth quarter and
held on for the victory after winning the quarter 31-21.
But Spain were clearly better in terms of character and
composure, as they were 21-of-26 at the free-throw line while Nigeria were
D’Tigers also failed to lay to rest the ghosts of their
earlier losses as they were, as a team, Nigeria 13-of-35 from the three-point
However, while Oguchi was on the losing side, he still stood
out as he performed in heroic fashion with a blistering display from long
The AfroBasket 2015 Most Valuable Player (MVP) drilled 7-of-12
three-pointers as part of a game-high 24 points.
D’Tigers now need to beat Croatia on Saturday and hosts
Brazil on Monday for a realistic chance of progressing to the knockout stage.
They have to finish among the top four to qualify for Wednesday’s
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