Nigeria’s D’Tigers will need to beat Croatia in their fourth match at Rio 2016 Olympics, if they are to still keep their hopes of making it through the group stages alive.
Having lost their first three opening matches, D’Tigers are facing elimination, although there is a little chance they might qualify for the quarter-finals if they win their last two matches and results go their way in matches involving other countries.
D’Tigers were out-shot in their first game against Argentina, but they have been impressive in their last two games against Lithuania and Spain despite the games ending in defeats.
Seeing them lead Lithuania into half time and clawing their way back from 14 points to Spain, who are ranked number two in the world was encouraging. It must be said that those two matches were lost from the 3rd quarter with the scenario happening as a result of their thin bench, and also a bit inexperience at this level. Isn’t it surprising that both games ended in identical 9-point deficit.
On Saturday, D’Tigers will go into the game facing a high flying Croatian team who won two out of their three matches. They surprisingly defeated Spain 72-70 and lost to Argentina 90-82, before narrowly beating Brazil 80-76.
Their two wins have been with narrow margins, which shows that they can be beaten as long as you stay with them till the last minute.
However it must be said that they know how to preserve a lead, just like in the game against Brazil when they stifled every chance to prevent the South Americans from coming back in the game.
Can Nigeria stop them? Yes they can, but with the manner Nigeria have conceded so many outside shots in all three matches played, if they can find a solution to that then an upset might be on.
Quick facts about Croatia:
At the 1992 Barcelona Games which incidentally was Croatia’s first ever appearance at the Olympics, they won Silver. Since then they have made a total of four appearances at the Games.
Also two years later at the FIBA World Cup, they won Bronze which was also their first ever outing at the competition.
Key players for either team:
– Ike Diogu remains the main man, hitting double-double against Argentina: 15 points and 13 rebounds and against Lithuania he made 19 points and 7 rebounds, although he didn’t have the best of games against Spain.
-Bojan Bogdanovic made 23 points against Spain and followed it up against Argentina with 16 points, but his best game was against Brazil whom he netted 33 points against.
* Nigeria – Will Voigt
* Croatia- Aleksandar Petrovic.
Place to watch:
You can watch the game live on SuperSports Channel SS7N (for Nigerian viewers) from 2:20am- 4.20am