In their opening game of the 2016 Olympics games in Rio de Janeiro, the Nigerian men’s basketball team were unable to shake off a slow start as they went down 94-66 to a sharp shooting Argentinian side.
Nigeria started with Ben Uzoh, Michael Gbinije, Ebi Ere, Ike Diogu and Alade Aminu.
Nigeria won the tip however failed to capitalise on early opportunities to put themselves on the scoreboard as Argentina tightened up defensively. The Argentinian side led by NBA veteran Manu Ginobili went on an 11-0 run to begin the game as their crisp passing and outside shooting were proving too much for Nigeria to contain. Ike Diogu put Nigeria’s first point on the board as Nigeria rallied to get back in the game. The introduction of Olaseni Lawal, Ekene Ibekwe and Michael Umeh seemed to give Nigeria the spark it needed as they rallied back in the game to close out the first quarter 15-22 down. Nigeria were dealt a blow as Olaseni Lawal went off injured after falling down awkwardly injuring his left knee in the process, his game status is unclear however Lawal did not return to the game.
As Nigeria tried to bring themselves back in the game in the second quarter, the Argentinian offence continued to fire on all cylinders as another 11-2 run late in the half extended their lead to 19 points. After the break, Nigeria did show some signs of mounting a comeback with timely plays from Ebi Ere, Mike Gbinije and Ike Diogu however, Argentina continued to mount the pressure on offense eventually running out as comfortable winners.
Ike Diogu finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds for Nigeria, whilst Ebi Ere added 14 points and Andy Ogide came off the bench to score 11. The team will now regroup as they prepare to face Lithuania on Tuesday.
- Argentina took the Nigerian out of their game very early on defense as Nigeria failed to get into an early rhythm.
- The team went 4/25 from three point range and were unable to keep up with the outside shooting or the Argentinians.
- Olaseni’s Lawal’s absence was a big blow for Nigeria on the defensive end.
- Ebi Ere seems to be a good offensive spark for Nigeria as Coach Voigt seems to have a lot of faith in his abilities.