August 15, 2016, 8:32 pm
This was the final day of the group stage in Rio and the three games on the slate certainly shook up the standings. Lithuania and Argentina had nothing to play for besides seeding but the other four teams in action all had a shot at advancing into the medal round. The games were less entertaining in actuality than they looked on paper, but Day 10 still had its moments.
Brazil 86 vs. Nigeria 69
Spain 92 vs. Argentina 73
Croatia 90 vs. Lithuania 81
Brazil 86 vs. Nigeria 69
Brazil kept their hopes alive by picking up a necessary win and eliminating Nigeria in the process. Brazil controlled most of the game and pulled away late with a big 23-8 run in the final quarter to earn a 17 point victory.
Brazil actually got off to a slow start thanks to a 1-10 mark from deep in the first quarter. Nene, as he did all day long, kept his team afloat with 3 big offensive rebounds in the quarter. He was part of an all out assault on the offensive glass that corralled in 20 offensive rebounds; even if follow up opportunities were missed it wore out Nigerian defenders and produced long stretches where Nigeria simply couldn’t get into any type of offensive rhythm. Nene finished with 19-7-4 as well as 3 steals and a block. He’s really come on after a slow start to the tournament and made a handful of nice dishes as the hub of the Brazilian offense today. A chunk of those passes went to Alex Garcia (#10), who racked up many of his 13 points on quick cuts to the rim. Marcelo Huertas was his usual crafty self with 12 points and 11 assists and has shown really well in Rio so far.
Brazil went with a different rotation today, trotting out big man Rafael Hettsheimeir (#30) who went for 12-6 with 3 triples. He was the entirety of Brazil’s three point attack in the first half and did well to keep them within shouting distance when the normal sources of offense dried up. Vitor Benite (#8) had another great second quarter with 10 points on 4-6 shooting (he ended with 15 total); this after he scored 13 points in the second quarter against Argentina on Saturday. Augusto Lima, the usual backup big man, picked up a DNP-CD today but might be needed against Team USA if Brazil can sneak into the medal round.
Nigeria just couldn’t keep up with Brazil’s second chances and shot themselves in the foot with a slew of sloppy turnovers in the second half. They had a chance in the third quarter when Brazil’s offense sagged when Nene hit the bench but turnovers kept Brazil’s lead in the 7-11 range. Josh Akognon (#8; 16 points, 3 triples) and Ben Uzoh (#4; 15-4-2) led the way and really picked up the slack for a starting backcourt that struggled mightily. Michael Umeh (#5) and Ebi Ere (#7) combined for just 14 points on 12 shots and committed 5 turnovers compared to 3 assists. Umeh came into the game got but just didn’t have his shot today.
Ekene Ibekwe (#15) flashed more great rim protection, blocking three more shots while deterring a few other looks at the rim. Ike Diogu (#6) had his hands full with Nene and struggled to the tune of 9 points on 3-8 shooting. It was a tough end for Nigeria but they had some very nice moments throughout their tournament. The first-time FIBA Afrobasket Champions acquitted themselves well on the Olympic stage.
Brazil Nigeria Points Nene 19
Rebounds Nene 7
Hettsheimeir / Felicio / Huertas 6
Uzoh / Umeh / Ibekwe / Diogu 4
Assists Huertas 11
Uzoh / Umeh / Aminu / Diogu 2
Ere / Oguchi / Gbinije 1
- More great blocks from Ibekwe; tournament’s block leader
- Fran dropping Ben Uzoh triple double knowledge!
- Nene with 3 offensive boards in Q1; kept Brazil afloat with second opportunities early on
- Alade Aminu (#14) has stretches of great activity but then disappears
- Nice 2nd unit production from Brazil; Benite wasn’t used often in the first two games but earned more time if they advance
- Brazil’s offense really sagged when Nene sat down to end Q3; it’s amazing how polished a passer he is when he gets the chance to show off
- Nigeria seems to just fire up bad shots if the play gets busted; didn’t seem like they re-set too many times
- Really good showing for Nigeria all things considered