Nigeria’s D’Tigers will need to be at their very best when they play take on Spain in their third Basketball match of Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Having lost their two opening matches to Argentina and Lithuania respectively, D’Tigers will need to come up with a huge upset and avoid starring and early elimination in the face.
It’s a tall order especially when one considers that Spain is a 2006 world champion and has a pedigree in the sport with renowned players both in the European Basketball League and also in the NBA.
However, D’Tigers have improved from their game against Argentina and came close to shocking Lithuania when they led at half-time only to lose 89-80. It was the cutting edge that they missed which saw them not steer clear before the Europeans rallied in the 3rd quarter out-shooting them.
Truth be told, D’Tigers are facing a mountain here, but then nothing is impossible in sports. Spain lost their second game by a point to the host country Brazil, who narrowly defeated them 66-65.
Let’s not forget that they also lost their first game to Croatia by 2 points, losing the match 70-72. So just like Nigeria they are without a win in Rio, will this be good or bad omen for D’Tigers?
This could spur Nigeria into believing they can beat Spain and who says they can’t. They were with Lithuania all the way before losing their balance and allowed them back in it.
One thing they would need is to limit Spain from outside shootings and will need to be first to any defensive rebound.
Quick Facts about Spain:
They have two of the biggest Basketball teams in Europe, yes they bear the same names with their big football teams, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Just like Nigeria who are African champions, they are continental champions, winning the European Championships in 2015.
They are second in the FIBA World Rankings, only behind the United States, and have won the Silver medal at the Olympics on three occasions: 1984, 2008 and 2012.
Key players for either team:
– For Spain, it has to be that man Pau Gasol who made 26 points against Croatia and 9 rebounds, then against Brazil he did the double-double, making 13 points and 10 rebounds.
– While for Nigeria, Ike Diogu is the main man, hitting double-double against Argentina: 15 points and 13 rebounds and against Lithuania he made 19 points and 7 rebounds
The absence of Shane Lawal in this game will be a loss, with the player having had a surgery a day after he got injured in the game against Argentina. By virtue of playing for Barcelona he would have been very instrumental in this game if he was available.
Michael Gbinije was ill in the game against Lithuania, if he hasn’t not recovered fully he will be a big loss to the team.
* Spain- Sergio Scariolo
* Nigeria – Will Voigt
Place to watch:
You can watch the game live on SuperSports Channel SS7N (for Nigerian viewers) from 22:50 pm- 012:50am