Nigeria’s D’Tigers team opened their Tokyo 2020 account, losing their first Group B match against the Boomers of Australia, who underlined why they are ranked 3rd in the global rankings with a convincing win, having to dig deep to find the win.
Australia might have won the game 84-67, but Nigeria had a chance to have at least pushed the game down to the last shot or even narrowed the margin to a low point defeat, however it all fell apart for D’Tigers in the last quarter.
In a game the Boomers were the overwhelming favourites, D’Tigers somehow made it a contest in the first three quarters, finishing the first quarter levels at 23-23. Australia outshot Nigeria by just three points going into the break, and even though the gap opened to 6pts after the 3rd quarter, D’Tigers were still in it.
Good start to the last quarter, Josh Okogie assists Caleb Agada for a layup, but Patty Mills took the Boomers 7pts with a 3pt shot. Down 5 after Chimezie Metu found the bucket, but 8 up now to Australia
Australia 64- 56 Nigeria
— Making of Champions (@MakingOfChamps) July 25, 2021
Bad turnovers and outside shots misses proved to be costly at the end of the game, but particularly Nigeria wasn’t finding their range with the Free Throws, which didn’t help in their quest to contain Australia. 12/25 of those FTs made, it proved to make the difference at the end of the game.
While Nigeria missed its FTs, Australia made the vital ones when it mattered, converting two FTs after Chimezie Metu was fouled out for an unsportsmanlike foul on Matthew Dellavedova. It was the turning moment that completely changed the game and gave Australia full control.
Nigeria will look back at some of the mistakes made, and learn from it, especially as it’s still the first game with two more to come against Germany and Italy later this week.
Part of the problem Nigeria had against Australia was containing Patty Mills. In fact Mills ran the show with a 3pt shooting accuracy of 63%, making 5/8 of the outside shots attempted, finishing the match with a game high 25pts.
Although Nigeria had four players finishing with double digits, they didn’t have players who stepped up like Mills did for Australia. Obi Emegano looked like he would have made that difference for Nigeria, making a team high 12pts, but he was on the court for just 19mins :15s
From the glimpses of what they showed, D’Tigers are still a tough team to beat, especially if they are a little bit patient and finish off their plays. Coach Mike Brown will now set his sights on Germany who lost their game against Italy, it will no doubt determine his team’s Olympics fate.
Many thanks to Paga for being the official sponsor of Making of Champions coverage of the Tokyo Olympics.