Despite a strong effort in their second game of the ongoing 2016 Olympic basketball tournament, the Nigerian men’s team were unable to secure their first win of the competition after an 89-80 loss against Lithuania on Tuesday night.
Starting five, Michael Umeh, Chamberlain Oguchi, Ebi Ere, Ike Diogu and Alade Aminu.
An exhilarating start to the game saw both teams exchange baskets in the early going of the first quarter as Lithuania took the initial advantage with an 11-6 lead after a basket by Jonas Maciulis. Josh Akognon made his impact felt from the bench, scoring four straight points thus igniting an 8-0 run as Nigeria took an early 14-11 lead. Lithuania converted on two free throws to stay within touching distance however, a follow up jam by Ekene Ibekwe at the buzzer ensured that Nigeria took a 16-13 point lead going into the second quarter. The second quarter was a back and forth affair as both teams tussled to take control of the game, back to back three pointers by Ike Diogu gave Nigeria a six point lead with about a minute left in the half before a Jonas Valaciunas dunk kept Lithuania from losing anymore ground. Ike Diogu split two free throws to give Nigeria a 41-36 lead going into the break.
It was a third quarter to forget for the Nigerian side as five quick points from Lithuania tied the game at 41 apiece. With Nigeria’s star man Diogu on the bench after picking up his third foul, D’Tigers were outscored by sixteen points in the quarter as they succumbed to an offensive barrage from the impressive Jonas Maciulis who scored 14 points alone in the third including a three pointer with time expiring to put Lithuania up 65-54. Nigeria did their best to come back in the game cutting the deficit to five points at 81-75 after two made free throws by Ike Diogu. Despite Nigeria’s best efforts, the strength of Lithuania who are ranked number three in the world was too much for the African champions to overcome.
Ike Diogu led Nigeria with 19 points and 7 rebounds, whilst Michael Umeh was impressive had 17 points and 4 assists. Jonas Maciulis and Mantas Kalnietis paced Lithuania with 21 points each, Kalnietis also had 12 assists. Nigeria will now face Spain on Thursday in search of their first win of the tournament.
- Nigeria played with only 9 players as Michael Gbinije (ill) and Olaseni Lawal (knee) did not see any action. It was later confirmed today the Olaseni Lawal will see no more action in the tournament after rupturing his Patella Tendon.
- Coach Voigt changed his starting lineup as he opted for Michael Umeh and Chamberlain Oguchi in the place of Ben Uzoh and Michael Gbinije.
- Despite the loss, D’Tigers improved on their three point shooting going 10/23 from behind the arc.
- Difference in the game was on the free throw line where Lithuania went 17/20 and Nigeria 8/10.