After facing world no.3 Lithuania on Tuesday night, Nigeria geared up against world no.2 Spain still searching for their first win in the ongoing 2016 Olympic tournament. Spain who have had a torrid tournament were also looking for their first win in what was poised to be an exciting affair.
Starting five: Michael Umeh – Chamberlain Oguchi – Ebi Ere – Alade Aminu – Ike Diogu
Spain raced out to an 11-2 run to start the game with Nigeria struggling to get into an early offensive rhythm. Chamberlain Oguchi connected on a corner three to break the drought but Spain responded with a three of their own then took a 20-7 lead with 2 minutes left in the quarter before Nigeria called a timeout. Nigeria tried to respond however Spain continued to execute especially on the fast break ending the quarter 25-11 ahead. The second quarter started with both teams trading baskets early on however with less than four minutes left, Nigeria went on a 14-3 run to close the gap after Spain led 40-27. Nigeria’s match-up zone defense was causing problems for Spain leading to easy fast break points as former University of Tulsa standout Ben Uzoh took over the game in the final minutes of the half. Uzoh split two free throws bringing Nigeria to within two points at 43-41 to finish the half.
Nigeria started the second half poorly as they looked like having another third quarter meltdown after some sloppy plays on both ends of the floor. Despite a 7-0 run by Spain, Nigeria managed to stay within touching distance through some timely conversions by sharp shooter Chamberlain Oguchi who found his range along with Ekene Ibekwe on the defensive end. With 23 seconds left in the quarter, Uzoh found Andy Ogide who converted on a short corner jumper to take Nigeria’s first lead at 66-65. Spain came out in the fourth quarter seeking to take control of the game and were up by eight points with six minutes left in the game. Refusing to go down without a fight, Nigeria battled back through Oguchi and when Alade Aminu’s offensive put back brought Nigeria to within two points at 81-79, you could sense the Nigerian team growing in confidence as Spain called a timeout. From the timeout, Pau Gasol converted on a three point play but Oguchi responded once again with a corner three to bring Nigeria to within one at 83-82. Nigeria regained possession however they were unable to convert on a fast break despite having the advantage. Spain quickly learnt from their earlier mistakes and went to their talisman Gasol who ensured that Spain regained control of the game to eventually seal it 96-87.
Chamberlain Oguchi finished with 24 points and 4 assists, whilst Josh Akognon had 12 points, 4 assists and 5 rebounds. Pau Gasol led Spain with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Nigeria’s next game is against Croatia on Saturday night.
- Will Voigt did not make any changes to his lineup from the Lithuania game.
- Chamberlain Oguchi recovered from a shooting slump going 7/12 from three point range.
- Ike Diogu failed to score in double digits for the first time in three games as he finished with seven points. Diogu only took 4 shots.