Normally when a team who has risen to the top of group rankings with a 3-1 record is matched up against a lowly 1-3 team, you would expect a blowout.
But San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Nando De Colo and Les Bleus got more than they bargained for in a Nigerian team whose sole win was against a 6th place Tunisia team that is winless in the Olympics.
But that wasn’t the only expectation that didn’t come to fruition. The Nigerians, who were expected to be lead by Al-Farouq Aminu and Ike Diogu, only got a total of six points from the NBA duo. Instead it was swingman Chamberlain Oguchi that lead the team in a losing effort against France 79-73.
In the end, it was Nigeria’s slow start in the first quarter that hurt them most. They only managed a very pedestrian 10 points in the first quarter. They just edged out France by two points in the second quarter, before a big third quarter run.
Nigeria got hot beyond the arch in the third, with Oguchi scoring 13 third quarter points and knocking down back-to-back threes. At the end of the third, the Nigerians were within striking distance, down just two points.
After Oguchi knotted it all up at 62 apiece with a three-pointer, Nicolas Batum and Kevin Seraphin lead Les Bleus back on a 13-6 run with Tony Parker and Diaw getting some extended rest on the bench. Batum got his 20th point on a jumper from beyond the arch with just seconds left to officially seal Nigeria’s fate. Oguchi made three free throws after a being fouled by Nando De Colo but with just 15 seconds left, it was too little too late.
In only 21 minutes, Parker served as more of a distributer, getting his teammates involved as he finished with three points and seven assists. Diaw had one of his better games in the opening round, finishing with 10 points, six rebounds, four assists, three assists and two blocked shots. De Colo managed to score his average through five games so far, scoring eight points along with four assists and four steals.
Oguchi lead Nigeria with 35 points, 24 of which came on three-pointers.
France now temporarily leads Group A with nine points and a record of four wins and one loss. They could possibly drop down to second later today if the United States wins what should be a very competitive matchup with Argentina.