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Poor shooting, turnovers hurt D’Tigers as Australia beat Nigeria 84-67

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D’Tigers’ Achiuwa Precious (left) and Vincent Nnamdi sandwich Australia’s Patty Mills during their opening match of the basketball event at the on-going Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games… yesterday.

Nigeria’s D’Tigers had everything going for them in their opening game of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics basketball event against Australia, but poor shooting and too many turnovers held them down.

For all their agility and determination to match their more illustrious opponents in many aspects of the game, D’Tigers still paid the prize for poor leg movement, inability to score free throws. Nigeria lost by 84 points to 67.

They met an Australian side that was well drilled defensively and had the movement that forced the Nigerians to commit errors in the last quarter of the game.

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Had D’Tigers converted their free throws and attempts at three points, perhaps, the outcome would have been different. The team will, however, be consoled that they were able to narrow the gulf between them as they only lost by 17 points against the 32 they got during a recent friendly with the Bloomers in Las Vegas, U.S.

Yesterday, D’Tigers rued missed opportunities as they could only make 13 out of their 24 free throw attempts, while the Australians made 18 of their 20 attempts from the charity line.

D’Tigers also made eight of their 24 three-point attempts – or 33.3 per cent – compared to the Aussies who made 11 of their 24 attempts from downtown (or 45.8 per cent).

Both teams were tied 23 points apiece at the end of the first quarter, and were still tied at 34 points apiece with just under four minutes left in the second quarter when D’Tigers got into foul trouble.

They were in even bigger trouble as they struggled to make their free throws. Their struggle from the free-throw line was the main reason Australia went into the half-time break three points ahead, 43-40.

A 13-2 push by the Aussies at the start of the third quarter gave the Boomers a 53-42 lead, but a revival of sorts, led by Jordan Nwora, midway through the quarter saw D’Tigers cut the lead to six points with just over three minutes on the clock.

The third quarter, however, ended 58-52 in favour of the Aussies, but the low-scoring 27-point quarter was probably due to a five-minute pause in action caused by an issue with the stop clock.

The stoppage seemed to affect the Nigerians more than it did the Aussies, as D’Tigers continued to struggle on the court, while the Boomers, led by the impressive Patty Mills, soared in confidence, and with six minutes left on the clock, had a comfortable 12-point lead.

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The 31-year-old NBA superstar, who was playing at his fourth Olympic Games, would finish the game with 25 points as Australia won by 17 points to go top of Group B on points difference ahead of Italy who defeated Germany 92-82 earlier in the day.

Obi Emegano led D’Tigers in scoring with 12 points, with Jordan Nwora (10 points) the only other Nigerian to hit double figures.

Nigeria’s next game is against Germany by 2.00 a.m. Nigerian time on Wednesday, July 28. Germany lost 82 to 92 to Italy yesterday.

Meanwhile, the United States seem destined to surrender the gold medal as they lost their opening game to France, yesterday. The score was 83 to 76. The Americans have been struggling in their recent games, with their recent loss to Nigeria in a friendly, who was then described as a minor dent, now showing the weakness in the defending champions.

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