The Nigerian senior men basketball team, D’Tigers, has been eliminated from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after losing 71-80 in their last group B game against Italy on Saturday.
Recall that during their pre-Olympic preparation, D’Tigers defeated the U.S.A and Argentina in Las Vegas. However, in Tokyo, the team failed to reproduce the scintillating performances rather they put up epileptic shows in matches they could have even won.
Saturday’s result meant the Italians were headed for the Olympic quarter-finals, ousting Nigeria to clinch that spot.
Having lost 67-84 to Australia in their group opener, and 92-99 to Germany in their second Group B game, expectations were high that the D’Tigers could turn things around against the Italians.
D’Tigers started on the front foot by taking the first two points before the Italians rallied and began to dominate the game for 29-17 at the end of the first quarter.
Nigeria, however, pulled off an amazing comeback to defeat the Italians 40-39 at the end of the second quarter.
Nigeria led 63-56 after three quarters and even saw their lead increase before the fourth quarter resumed.
Italy’s Michele Vitali had drawn a technical for trying to slap the ball away before the start of the fourth quarter.
So, before the 10-minute clock even started, Nigeria’s seven-point lead increased to an eight-point edge.
D’Tigers, however, went silent for nearly seven minutes after that, failing to score as a result.
Nicolo Melli scored 15 points, Nico Mannion had 14 and Italy used a 14-0 run in the fourth quarter to rally and beat Nigeria 80-71 in the Group B finale for both teams.
Achille Polonara added 13, Simone Fontecchio scored 12 and Stefano Tonut finished with 10 for Italy (2-1).
Chimezie Metu scored 22 points and Jordan Nwora added 20, while Jahlil Okafor scored 14 points.
Italy will either finish first or second in the group, as the final standings will be decided by the game between Germany and Australia later on Saturday.
Either way, the Italians will play again on Tuesday.
It is the fifth consecutive Olympic appearance in which Italy have reached the quarter-finals, the most recent of those coming in 2004 at Athens when they won the silver medal.
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