Australia Defeats Nigeria 84-67 In Olympics Basketball Opener
D’Tigers of Nigeria suffered a tough 84-67 defeat to Australia thanks to Patty Mills’ clinical three-point shooting and leadership in the basketball event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Sunday.
Nigeria had eight players who currently play in the NBA in its squad, while the Australian’s had seven NBA players. Both teams won exhibition games in Las Vegas against the USA coming into the match.
Mills was leading from the front in the first quarter, racking up three steals and two three-pointers as Australia surged out to a 21-14 lead. The Australians impressive defence frustrated the offence of the Nigerians.
But Nigeria drained two three-pointers in quick succession to haul the lead back to 21-20 with under a minute in the first period. A slip on the court gave Nigeria a third shot from beyond the arc to take a two-point lead. Then a Duop Reath jumper for the Boomers (Australia) tied things up going into the break at 23-23.
Nigeria continued its hot run to begin the second quarter, using their size to get into the paint. But Mathew Dellavedova shook off his shooting woes coming into the tournament by draining a longe-range three. With 4:19 left in the first half, the sides were locked at 34 points apiece.
Then the Australians went on a quick run to get out to a five-point lead, but were still giving up cheap turnovers and being punished. Down by three points, Precious Achiuwa missed both his free throws with the chance to close the lead to one point. The teams hit the break split by three points.
The Australians lost momentum in the third quarter when the game was delayed for nearly five minutes because of technical glitches that saw the time clock and shot clock stop working.
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Nigeria cut the deficit to five early in the fourth. However, the Boomers blew out the scoreline in the late stages of the fourth quarter to claim a 17-point win.
Mills started and finished strongly, ending up with 25 points on five-of-eight shooting from beyond the arc. He added four rebounds, four steals and six assists.
The game was marred by mistakes and turnovers from both sides. Australia hit 17 of 19 free throws, while Nigeria hit just 12 of 24 – a key differential in the game. Obi Emegano scored 12 points for Nigeria, while NBA winner Jordan Nwora had 10 points from the bench. Josh Okogie contributed nine points.
Australia now lead Group B on points difference after Italy beat Germany by 10 points. D’Tigers now need to bounce back from the disappointment of their opening loss when they face Germany in their second group game on Wednesday.
Sunday’s Olympics basketball results
Iran 78-84 Czech Republic
Germany 82-92 Italy
Australia 84-67 Nigeria