It was not the outcome Nigeria’s D’Tigers would have wished for in their second Basketball game at the ongoing Rio 2016 Olympics, as they lost to Lithuania by 89-80 points.
Surprisingly, a huge upset seemed to have been on the cards after D’Tigers led by 41-36 points going into half-time, however they tuned off in the 3rd quarter allowing Lithuania to come back in the game, out-shooting the Nigerians who had no response to that.
Mantas Kalnietis and Jonas Maciulis may have led with 21 points each for Lithuania, but it was the impact of their Centre Jonas Valanciunas in the 3rd quarter that really changed the game for them, making 10 points and 5 rebounds with 4 of those being defensive rebounds.
On the Nigerian side, Ike Diogu led by example, making 19 points and 7 rebounds, followed by Michael Umeh who contributed 17 points, 2 rebounds and 4 assists.
It was an improvement from Nigeria’s first match against Argentina when they lost by as much as 94-66 points, especially missing two key players in Shane Lawal and Michael Gbinije who didn’t play any part in this game.
Lithuania are former FIBA champions and have a huge pedigree in the sport, but they were stunned how close D’Tigers were and almost shocking them in the encounter with a win.
Even when they opened an 11-point lead in the 4th quarter, one expected them to run away with, however it was reduced to 6 points with almost a minute to play, but nervousness crept in and D’Tigers gave away four free throws of which three were converted.
D’Tigers face a daunting task against Spain in their next game, but having ruffled Lithuania in this game they will have a belief that an upset could happen.