Nigeria’s D’Tigers bowed out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after suffering a third defeat in three Group B matches at the Saitama Arena. Nigeria lost to Italy 80-71 in their final match of the preliminary round to seal their first-round exit from the tournament.
Having lost against Australia and Germany in their first two games, Nigeria needed to win by nine points and hope Australia could defeat Germany to stand a chance of progressing to the quarterfinals for the first time. Italy started the match well, winning the first quarter comfortably 29-17 before the D’Tigers rallied in the second quarter, winning 22-11 to end the first half with a one-point deficit, 40-39 down. The Nigerian side turned up the heat in the third quarter as they dominated the Italians on the floor and inside the paint, winning the quarter 24-16 to go into a 63-56 lead. Chimezie Metu scored a free throw as the fourth quarter commenced before things went downhill for the D’Tigers as they failed to score a single point while Italy cut down their lead with a 11-0 run and took a lead of their own. D’Tigers scored only seven more points in the game as Italy dominated the fourth quarter to end up with a 80-71 win.
Nigeria’s slow start and finish to the game cost them dearly, with their ten turnovers and poor shooting (55% accuracy) from the free-throw line in the first half proving particularly costly. The inability of the D’Tigers to claim both offensive and defensive rebounds in the final quarter also influenced their ability to build any momentum in the game. Chimezie Metu and Jordan Nwora were the stars of the show for Nigeria once again, with Metu contributing 22 points and Nwora contributing 20.
Nigeria’s young side would definitely have learnt a thing or two from their first ever Olympics as a team, and the team would surely be one to watch in the future.