D’Tigers earned their first win at the 2016 Olympic Basketball Tournament by creating the biggest upset to date in the competition with a 90-76 defeat of Croatia on Saturday night.
With the victory, the African champions improved to 1-3 to keep alive their hopes of advancing to the quarter-finals, with Croatia dropping to 2-2.
Croatia led 28-21 at the end the first quarter but Nigeria outscored them 22-11 in the second to take a 43-39 half-time lead.
Michael Umeh hit 5-of-8 three-pointers for 16 first half points.
Nigeria’s hot shooting from long range continued in the third quarter as they hit 4-of-7 attempts.
Their lead reached 50-35 when Ike Diogu connected from beyond the arc.
An 8-0 run spanning the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth enabled Croatia to cut the deficit to single digits at 70-61.
They got within 74-71 on a Bojan Bogdanovic free-throw with 4:14 left to play but down the stretch Josh Akognon and Ebi Ere hit clutch three-pointers to secure the impressive win.
The win ranks as Nigeria’s biggest win at the world level since they surprised Greece 80-79 at the 2012 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Heading into their final group game on Monday against hosts Brazil on the back of this win can only do their confidence a world of good.
Croatia will face European rivals Lithuania and whether or not they reach the quarter-finals may be dictated by more than the result of their game.