Any hope for Nigeria to gain a medal in the men’s basketball event of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, crashed on Saturday as the D’Tigers exited the competition following a 71-80 loss to Italy in their final Group A game.
D’Tigers had lost their two previous group games to Australia and Germany and needed a win to secure the third position in the group with the hope to qualify as one of the third=best ranked place teams in the preliminary group stage.
Things got off to a rocky start for the Nigerian team as they lost the first quarter 17-29. They, however, upped the ante in the second quarter and won it 22-11, bringing the overall score to 40-39 in favour of the Italians at the half-time break.
The Nigerians continued to dominate the game, nicking the third quarter 24-16, going into the lead for the first time in the game with a 63-56 lead.
However, just as it happened against Germany, D’Tigers collapsed in the fourth quarter and threw away their seven-point lead as their strong defence suddenly turned weak and failed to nail the three-pointers that had helped them in previous quarters and successfully execute lay-offs for two-pointers
In contrast, the Italians scored the majority of their three-pointers and kept gaining fouls as they forced themselves to the Nigerians’ foul and base lines respectively, thereby winning the quarter 24-8 and clinching the game.
Metu Chimezie was the D’Tigers highest-scoring player on the day, netting 22 points; followed by Jordan Nwora with 20 points.
The Italians finished their group state campaign with two wins and a loss, securing five points.
Despite impressing in their warm-up games against the United States of America and Argentina, D’Tigers lost all three games in Tokyo and exit with three points.