D’Tigers lost their second match at the FIBA World Cup by 94-81 to Argentina on Monday. The South Americans relied on experience in the third quarter to overcome the Tigers and record their second victory in Group B in a game played at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Wuhan Sports Centre, China.
According to a FIBA.com report, Argentina established a double digit lead soon after the tip off but the Nigerians turned up the heat in the second quarter to tie the game 43-43 at the half time break.
Straight out of the locker rooms and into the fire, Nigeria were caught off-guard by a relentless Argentine side.
Despite a spirited effort from the young side paraded by Alex Nwora and ending the first half 43 points apiece against the 5th rated team in the world, it was not enough on the day managing to win only second quarter 17-28, 26-15, 18-29, 20-22.
Josh Okogie who on Sunday celebrated his 21st birthday, again was the top performer for the Nigerian team with 18 points, 5 assists and 2 rebounds.
Jordan Nwora scored 12 points, 2 assists and caught 3 rebounds during the 20.51minutes he spent on the court.
Al-Farouk Aminu put in a good shift defensively for the team with 8 rebounds and 3 points.
Despite a really late charge in the last two minutes of the last quarter, Argentina were the better team as they went on to record their 60th win in the FIBA Basketball World Cup. Only five other teams have already reached this mark: USA (124), Brazil (82), Yugoslavia (73), Soviet Union (66) and Spain (64) according to FIBA records.
Luis Scola was named TCL Player of the Game after registering a double-double, scoring 23 points and 10 rebounds in 32 minutes of playing time. He converted 6-of-7 attempts at the charity line and went 7-of-11 from the field.
This set him up as the second all-time highest scorer at the FIBA Basketball World Cup at 611 points – a record that was held by Australian legend Andrew Gaze.
It was poor for Alexandre Nwora team with the number of team fouls – 25 his team committed considering that Argentina converted 22 of their 27 attempts at the free throw line.
However, he can find solace in the fact that Nigeria’s 10 blocks today were the most by an African team in the FIBA Basketball World Cup in the 21st century. Only Spain have made more blocks than Nigeria in that span – 13 against Senegal in 2014.
Nwora responded, “I am proud of my team. We fought hard. There is a couple of plays that were crucial that could have gone our way but they did not. This is a very young team that does not have experience but if they stay together, we can do a lot more. We are still one of the best teams in Africa in my opinion but we have not yet shown it. I thought it would be this time but obviously we still have some things to improve. We have played very good teams that have a good culture of basketball. They have been together for about 15 years. That is a fact. My team gave their best. We will get better as a team.”
Argentina coach was good with words also.
“Before the game, that it will be tough and a definitive game to determine. Nigeria is a great team, strong and run the floor. One of the best things that Argentina did was to stop the first break in the third quarter. We stopped them and in the third quarter, we are really, really happy. In four years, we have a new game. The Arena was unbelievable,” Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez said.