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Olympic Basketball: Despite two losses, here’s how Nigeria can still make the quarter-finals

Olympic Basketball: Despite two losses, here’s how Nigeria can still make the quarter-finals

Nigeria’s men national Basketball team D’Tigers walk a tightrope after losing their first two games at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics in Japan but could spring a miracle and make the knock-out stages going by the Federation of International Basketball Associations (FIBA) rules governing the competition.

D’Tigers lost to Australia (84-65) and Germany (99-92) but a healthy win against Italy in their final group game on Friday at the Saitama Super Arena could see Nigeria picking up one of the two available tickets for best third-placed teams.

As things stand, Germany (Group B) and Czech Republic (Group A) occupy the two third-best spots but a win for D’Tigers could change all that depending on what happens in other groups.

Under FIBA rules, each win attracts two points while a loss fetches the losing team one point. This means that Nigeria has two points from its two losses so far and a win against Italy will catapult D’Tigers to four points, same as the Italians who currently have three points from their one win and one draw so far. Their projected loss to Nigeria will take their points tally to four, just like we project Nigeria to have.

Again, according to FIBA classification rules where two teams are tied, the following metrics are employed to separate them. First is number of points amassed by both teams and, in this instance, Nigeria and Italy would be tied on four each.

So we move to the second metric which is head-to-head points between the two tied teams. Since this is a direct match-up between them and we project Nigeria to win, then D’Tigers would move into second place while the Italians hopefully pick a third-place ticket with their four points.

Other metrics include head-to-head points difference and head-to-head number of points scored between both teams but anything other than a Nigerian victory will invalidate these metrics.

The Nigerian team raised expectations when they beat powerhouses USA and Argentina in pre-Olympic exhibition games but two straight losses when it mattered most at the competition proper has left the fans disappointed.

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D’Tigers’ Josh Okogie who’s been one of the few shining lights at the Olympics insists that the Nigerian team is still a work in progress so the losses should be put in that perspective.

“For me, there’s no losing, just learning. I don’t ever think it’s a surprise when we win or beat a team. We don’t prepare to lose, ever. We don’t practice to lose, ever.”

It is Nigeria’s third time at the Olympics but D’Tigers have never gone beyond the group stages in their previous appearances.

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