CARACAS (FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament) - What a day it was in Caracas at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament!
Nigeria caused the biggest upset of the tournament by disposing of Lithuania 86-80 in a game filled with big shots.
Nigeria’s lead reached double figures on multiple occasions but the Green Machine always answered, usually through Linas Kleiza (22 points, 4 rebounds).
Derrick Obasohan (20 points, 5/8 three-point shooting), Al Farouq Aminu (16 points, 9 rebounds) and Tony Skinn (15 points, 3 assists) took turns to be the hero, Skinn sinking the game-sealing shot in the last minute.
The African bronze medallists missed out on first place in the group, however, falling a mere four points short on points differential. The result means hosts Venezuela drop out of the tournament.
Greece held off a mighty three-quarter challenge from Puerto Rico to claim first place in Group A thanks to Vasileios Spanoulis (27 points, 5 assists), who scored his team’s first 13 points.
The game ebbed and flowed throughout, with the size of Peter John Ramos (15 points, 7 rebounds) and some excellent interior passing keeping the Americans within striking distance.
But ultimately the composure of Spanoulis and the 14-of-24 three-point shooting of the Greeks proved too much.
New Zealand turned around their poor showing on Day 1 with an impressive 68-64 win over Angola.
Seventeen-year-old debutante Tai Webster was the star of the show with 21 points on 5-of-6 shooting from long range, as his team established an 18-point second-quarter lead and held on down the stretch.
For Angola, Eduardo Mingas led the way with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The Tall Blacks fell 10 points short of qualifying for the Quarter-Finals on points differential, however, while the loss dropped Angola to second in Group D.
Russia locked up first place in Group C with a physical 84-69 win over the Dominican Republic in the day’s second game.
Led by Andrey Kirilenko (16 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists), David Blatt’s men took up the challenge of the athletic islanders to win the rebound count 42-30. Forward Victor Khryapa compiled 14 points, six assists and five boards.
For the Dominican Republic, Al Horford was brilliant with 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting, nine rebounds and four assists, well supported again by Jack-Michael Martinez (13 points, 12 rebounds).
The downside for Russia was an ankle injury to centre Timofey Mozgov, leaving him in doubt for the remainder of the tournament.