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D’Tigers suffer further loss to withdraw from Tokyo 2020 Olympics

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D’Tigers suffer further loss to withdraw from Tokyo 2020 Olympics

By Victor Okoye

Nigeria’s senior men’s basketball team D’Tigers are absent from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after losing 71-80 in their last Group B game on Saturday.

The Nigeria News Agency (NAN) reports that the D’Tigers completed their pre-Olympic preparations with impressive wins over the United States and Argentina in Las Vegas.

But in Tokyo, they failed to replicate such scintillating performances, and instead put on epileptic shows in matches they might even have won.

Saturday’s result meant the Italians headed for the Olympic quarter-finals, ousting Nigeria to clinch that spot.

After losing to Australia 67-84 in their first group game and 92-99 to Germany in their second Group B game, expectations were high that D’Tigers would succeed against the Italians.

The D’Tigers had started on the front foot taking the first two points before the Italians rallied and began to dominate the game for 29-17 at the end of the first quarter.

Nigeria, however, managed a spectacular comeback as the Italians struggled to keep pace with the D’Tigers to a 40-39 at the end of the second quarter.

Nigeria led 63-56 after three quarters, and even saw their lead increase before the fourth quarter resumed.

Italian Michele Vitali shot a technique for trying to repel the ball before the start of the fourth quarter.

So, before the 10-minute clock even started, Nigeria’s seven-point lead grew to eight.

However, the D’Tigers eased off the gas and didn’t score for nearly seven minutes from that point.

Nicolo Melli scored 15 points, Nico Mannion had 14 and Italy used a 14-0 streak in the fourth quarter to rally and beat Nigeria 80-71 in the Group B final for both teams.

Achille Polonara added 13, Simone Fontecchio scored 12 and Stefano Tonut finished with 10 for Italy (2-1).

Chimezie Metu scored 22 points and Jordan Nwora added 20, while Jahlil Okafor scored 14 points.

The Italians will finish first or second in the group, as the final standings will not be decided until the Germany-Australia match later on Saturday.

Either way, the Italians will play again on Tuesday.

This is the fifth consecutive Olympic participation in which Italy has reached the quarter-finals, the most recent of those which took place in 2004 in Athens when it won the silver medal.

GROUP B MEN’S BASKETBALL RANKING

Team PWL PD Pts Italy 3 2 1 +16 5 Australia 2 2 0 +20 4 Germany 2 1 1 – 3 3 Nigeria 3 0 3 – 33 3

(NAN)

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