World Cup: Metu, Nigeria Earn 2020 Olympic Berth; Belinelli, Italy Close Out World Cup Run with Win

Project Spurs illustration/Credit: Nigeria Basketball

San Antonio Spurs guard Marco Belinelli and forward Chimezie Metu completed their 2019 FIBA World Cup runs Sunday, as Metu and Nigeria earned a 2020 Tokyo Olympic berth with an 86-73 victory over China, while Belinelli and Italy closed out their World Cup run with a 94-89 win over Puerto Rico.

Metu’s vicious dunk and late three help Nigeria hold on against China

As he’s done throughout the World Cup, Metu came off the bench playing primarily the 4 in the game. He played 20 minutes Sunday and finished with 11 points (5/8 shooting), six rebounds, one assist, one turnover, and one block. Here’s a quarter-by-quarter log of Metu’s play Sunday.

First Quarter – In his first few minutes of the first, Metu got to attempt an open three pointer, but he couldn’t make the shot.

Second Quarter – On one possession, Metu caught the ball near the elbow and made a jump hook. Late in the quarter, he was able to drive by the defender and take the contested floater, but he missed the shot.

Third Quarter – With about four and half minutes left, Metu was matched up with Yi Jianlian 1-on-1. Yi used a pump fake and Metu fell for it, which allowed Yi to drive to the basket and finish with a dunk. On an inbounds play, Metu was passed the ball, he used a spin move, and just dunked on two opponents. You can see the clip below. Late in the third, Metu drove by his defender and tried to finish a layup. He missed the shot, but he got his own rebound and made the put-back.

Fourth Quarter – With close to six minutes left in the game, on a transition possession, Metu was running on the break and after his teammate got close to the basket, he passed it back to Metu for the open dunk. With 3:42 left and China still within 5 points, Metu made a critical spot-up three. The clip can be seen below. On the following possession, Metu disrupted a pass on the roll and his team finished with the score on the other end. Nigeria then led by 10.

Nigeria ended up winning group M with a 3-2 overall record. Since they finished with the best record out of the all the African countries that participated at the World Cup, they automatically earned a 2020 Olympic berth, when the games take place in Tokyo, Japan next year.

Belinelli leads Italy to victory over Puerto Rico

After taking blame for the loss against Spain on Friday, Belinelli bounced back with a 27-point performance against Puerto Rico Sunday. Belinelli made 7 of his 17 shot attempts, while also adding six rebounds, three assists, and one turnover in 40 minutes of action.

Italy finished the World Cup with a 3-2 overall record, placing them third in Group J. Belinelli and Metu will now have a few weeks to rest and recover before training camp with the Spurs begins.


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