A spirited fight from Nigeria inspired them to their first win at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 after seeing off Korea 108-66 in a one-sided Group B tie on Wednesday at the Wuhan Sports Center.
Four players recorded double digits as D’Tigers showed their true spots and returned to winning ways in a convincing performance that saw them get closer to a possible qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Michael Eric dropped 17 points and was one rebound away from a double double in his best game at this competition so far with these figures earning him the prestigious TCL Player of the Game.
The ever present Ike Diogu showed great character in the paint on both ends of the court to limit Korea’s Ra Guna to just eight made field goals out of 18 attempts. Diogu scored 16 points and made six rebounds on his part.
Chimezie Metu and Ben Uzoh added 15 and 10 points in that order to restore dignity in the Nigerian camp following their near losses to Russia and Argentina earlier.
Turning Point: It was close in the beginning but that was just about it. In the second quarter, Nigeria turned up the heat and picked everything off the glass while making it count on the other end of the court establishing a 13-0 run and through to the third quarter which they dominated. They faced no challenge thereafter whatsoever.
Eric’s 17 points and 9 rebounds earned him the beautiful TCL Player of the Game Award and he smiled all the way to his room. His leadership in the paint came in handy for the Nigerians.
Nigeria netted 50 points in the paint as compared to Korea’s 18 or rather Ra’s individual 18. No other Korean player managed to convert in the paint. The Nigerian bench too will be receiving their kudos from coach Nwora for scoring 63 of the team’s 108 points to get them to the triple digit club at this World Cup.
With this performance, not all is lost for Nigeria even though they are out of the medal brackets. D’Tigers now head to Group M in Guangzhou along with Cote d’Ivoire and the loser between hosts China and Venezuela for the Classification Round 17-32.
Following Tunisia’s 67-64 loss to Puerto Rico, Nigeria stands a chance of qualifying automatically for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as the best African side at the World Cup.