D’Tigers will go into their game against Lithuania on Tuesday needing a victory to bolster their chances of progressing from the group stages of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Nigeria lost their opening match by 94-66 points to 2004 GOLD medallists Argentina, who were the best side to every outside shot made in the match, with Luis Scola and Facundo Campazzo stealing the show for the South Americans with 18 and 19 points respectively.
Losing Shane Lawal early in the first quarter affected D’Tigers as Ike Diogu made a game high 12 defensive rebounds, with Ekene Ibekwe hardly in the game following his foul out.
With Lawal believed to be out of the Olympics after landing awkwardly with the knee he recently had surgery on, the team will need Ibekwe now more than ever to add there more height in the Nigerian team so as to be able to contain the Lithuanians.
Lithuania is a bit in a comfortable zone at the moment after stunning the host country, Brazil to win their first game 82-76 points. Well, as straightforward as it sounds, they held on for dear lives in the game.
At some point in that game, Lithuania held a lead of over 25 points but they blew it and somehow allowed Brazil back in the game. This showed their vulnerability in defence and how they tend to tune off in matches.
If D’Tigers could find a way to get a Shooting Guard to roam behind their perimeter, it would cause them problems just as Brazil’s Barbosa did to ruffle them in the 3rd and 4th quarters.
Head to Head meetings:
This will not be the first time Nigeria will face Lithuania at the Olympics. The last time they did was at the London 2012 Olympics when the Europeans won by 72-53 points.
However it must be noted that D’Tigers beat the Lithuanians during the Olympic qualifiers of that same year in Venezuela, winning by 86-80 points, so who knows they could still do it again on Tuesday.
Quick Facts about Lithuania:
Aside Catholicism, Basketball is like a second religion in Lithuania. In fact it is considered as the number sport in the country.
They have won seven bronze medals in the Basketball event at the Olympics, with the last one dating back to Sydney 2000 Games.
Key players for both teams:
– Paulius Jankunas made 15 points & 7 rebounds, Mantas Kalnietis 16 points & 8 assists against Brazil.
-Ike Diogu hit double-double against Argentina, 15 points and 13 rebounds and Ebi Ere 14 points & 3 rebounds
* Lithuania – Jonas Kazlauskas
* Nigeria – Will Voigt
Where you can watch the match:
You can watch the game live on SuperSports Channel SS13 (for Nigerian viewers) from 10:50 pm- 11:50pm