Tokyo 2020: D’Tigers go down in Olympic opener after second half push by superior Aussies
Nigeria’s national men’s basketball team, D’Tigers, didn’t make the best of starts at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, as they lost to Australia’s Boomers, but the gulf between both sides wasn’t as wide as was the case when both sides met in Las Vegas.
On that occasion in Las Vegas on July 13, D’Tigers lost by 32 points to the Boomers, but on Sunday the difference was 17 points as they lost 84-67 to the Aussies.
It could all have been different though if D’Tigers had been more proficient with their shooting, especially from the free throw line where they made just 13 of their 24 attempts – or 54.2 per cent. The Australians, meanwhile, made 18 of their 20 attempts from the charity line.
The Nigerians also made 8 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.
But D’Tigers 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.
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.
Up next for D’Tigers will be a date with Germany at 2AM Nigerian time on Wednesday, July 28.