Nigeria’s D’Tigers earned their first win at the 2016 Olympics men’s basketball event by pulling off the biggest upset to date in the competition with a 90-76 defeat of Croatia on Friday night.
With the victory, the African champions improved to 1-3 to keep alive their hopes of advancing to the quarter-finals. Croatia, meanwhile, dropped to 2-2.
Croatia led 28-21 at the end the first quarter but Nigeria outscored them 22-11 in the second to take a 43-39 half-time lead. Michael Umeh hit 5-of-8 three-pointers for 16 points first half points.
Nigeria’s lead reached 50-35 when big man Ike Diogu connected from beyond three-point range.
Croatia however got within 74-71 on a Bojan Bogdanovic free-throw with 4:14 left to play but down the stretch Josh Akognon and Ebi Ere hit clutch three-pointers to secure the impressive win.
The victory is Nigeria’s biggest win at the world level since they surprised Greece 80-79 at the 2012 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Heading into their final game against hosts Brazil on the back of this win can only do their confidence a world of good. Croatia will face European rivals Lithuania and whether or not they reach the Quarter-Finals may be dictated by more than the result of their game.