Tokyo 2020 Olympics: D’Tigers look to bounce back with win against desperate Germany

Gabe Vincent of Nigeria’s D’Tigers dribbles the ball past Australia’s Patty Mills during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on July 25, 2021 at Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: AFP

Nigeria’s D’Tigers will be back in action in the early hours of Wednesday in Saitama, the venue of the basketball events of the Olympic Games to take on a desperate German team in a Group B match the African champions have a very good chance of emerging victorious.

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Both Nigeria and Germany are reeling from losses in their respective tournament openers. Nigeria lost 84-67 to Australia, while Germany lost to Italy 92-82, so both teams need a win to boost their chances of picking one of Group B’s two automatic quarterfinal tickets.

Even more desperate for a win would be the Germans who will have their work cut out if they fail to win against Nigeria as their final Group B match will be against the gold medal favourites Australia.

Germany have NBA stars Isaac Bonga and Moritz Wagner in the squad, but their best player, Dennis Schroder, is missing due to insurance-related issues.

The absence of the guard was felt against Italy and it looks set to be the same on Wednesday against D’Tigers who are carrying the pride of the African continent in Tokyo and, on paper, are the second-best team in Group B, next only to Australia.

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In Nnamdi Gabe Vincent, Precious Achiuwa, and KZ Okpala, all players of the Miami Heat, D’Tigers Coach Mike Brown has the rare privilege of having three players from the same NBA team. That familiarity gives D’Tigers an edge not many national teams have. It wasn’t too glaring against the vastly experienced Australians, but it was glaring in the pre-Olympic exhibition game wins over the USA and Argentina, and could prove pivotal against the Germans.

It doesn’t end there though, as D’Tigers have a total of seven players from the NBA, including the impressive Josh Okogie and Jordan Nwora who contributed 11 and 10 points respectively against the Aussies.

D’Tigers will have to attack the low post and get the big Germans into foul trouble early on as seven of the German players are between 6′ 8″ and 6′ 11″. But they will need to do better from the free-throw line as that was one area in which they uncharacteristically struggled against the Aussies, making just 13 of their 24 attempts from the charity line.

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The African champions also need to rediscover their scoring touch from 3-point territory against the Germans after converting just 8 of their 24 attempts from downtown against the Boomers.

If all goes according to the script, Germany will have their work cut out against Nigeria. Although any team can be beaten, as the United States 83-76 loss to France proved, it is unlikely D’Tigers will lose to Germany as they look to become the first African team to ever make it to the Olympic Games’ quarterfinals.

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