The Nigerian male basketball team has booked the final slot at the forthcoming 2012 Olympics. The team will make their debut in London, later this month, after defeating the Dominican Republic 88-73 in the qualifier yesterday, Sunday July 8, 2012.
The team arrived in Venezuela as far from the favourites to win any of the three berths that would guarantee a place in the Olympics. But they stunned everyone, with resounding victories over former European champions, Greece, and a final win over Dominican Republic. The other two teams who made it in this qualifier were Russia and Lithuania.
The Russian team booked their place in the Olympics with their semifinal win over Nigeria on Saturday, July 7. And Lithuania also secured a spot with a victory over the Dominican Republic on the same day. Nigeria was left to play one last match with the Dominicans to contest for the third, and final, berth still available.
Nigeria forward, Ike Diogu, gave an outstanding performance scoring 25 points and 10 rebounds. Diogu, a 10-year NBA veteran who was with the San Antonio Spurs last season and who plays for Puerto Rico’s Capitanes de Arecibo team, received the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.
Nigeria will play in Group A, alongside fellow qualifiers Lithuania, Tunisia, France, Argentina, and the 2008 Olympic Gold champions United States.
Nigeria is ranked 21st in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) world rankings.