Team Nigeria may not have had a good outing across all sports competed in at the Rio 2016 Olympics, considering that only a paltry Bronze medal was won. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that there weren’t notable performances worth cheering.
From Rowing to Boxing, Basketball and even Table-Tennis, many Nigerians applauded their representatives who donned the country’s colours in some of these events at the Games.
Although they didn’t get to the podium, they aroused interest of what Nigerian athletes can achieve if given adequate support to see them getting medals at the next Olympics.
Of the eight sports participated in, we have identified seven standouts for Nigeria at the Rio Olympics, and will start the countdown from Nos.7 to 1.
Most of the matches D’Tigers played were very late in the night, the wee hours in Nigeria, but it didn’t deter most fans who defied the odd hours to watch them.
D’Tigers stoked up interest when they qualified for the Olympics by virtue of winning the 2015 Afrobasket competition in Tunisia, thereby gaining the continent’s sole automatic ticket. Remember the last time they qualified for the Olympics, it was through a qualifier in Venezuela in 2012.
With an American coach who can sing the national anthem more than most Nigerians, Will Voigt inspired belief that his team could face whatever opposition and hold their heads high.
D’Tigers started poorly, losing their first game to Argentina, but improved in subsequent matches against Lithuania and Spain, two renowned Basketball powerhouses. Although they still lost those games, they played better and the margins of defeat were down to nine points, as against the 26 point margin defeat to Argentina.
Staring elimination in the face, D’Tigers stunned group leaders Croatia and defeated them to win their second ever match since participating at the Olympics. It was a historic moment for D’Tigers, especially as Croatia had already beaten both Spain and Lithuania.
More so, that victory put D’Tigers on the cusp of qualifying for the quarterfinals, needing to beat the host country Brazil in their final game. The could have done it as they led in the first quarter and had an opportunity of closing the gap in the fourth, missing two free throws to tie, but the pressure of playing the host team got to them as they faltered and lost the match.
By all means it was a good outing for D’Tigers as they garnered more experience and would no doubt learn from it.
Interestingly, they have moved up in the FIBA ranking and are now ranked No.1 in Africa and 16th in the world, quite a leap.
— Nigeria Basketball (@NigeriaBasket) August 25, 2016
Imagine how far they would have gotten if Portland Trailblazers’ duo of Festus Ezeli and Al Farouq Aminu had sorted out their insurance issues, or if Barcelona’s Shane Lawal had not injured his knee and missed the rest of the tournament.