France vs. Nigeria Olympic Basketball: Grades, Twitter Reaction and Analysis
It looked like France was going to run away with its final group-stage game. The medal contenders were beating Nigeria 23-10 at the end of the first quarter, but they slowly let the lead slip away and were forced to claw out a 79-73 victory.
Nicolas Batum led France with 23 points, while Mickael Gelabale chipped in 11. It's the type of game that should serve as a wake-up call for the French as they prepare to move on. They can't afford to play another game like that.
The main reason Nigeria was able to keep it close was Chamberlain Oguchi. He scored 35 points to ensure this game didn't turn in to a blowout. Nigeria was never viewed as a team that would make it out of Group A, but it didn't stop fighting until the final whistle.
Here's a look at all the postgame information, including reaction from Twitter, team grades and more analysis as the group stage nears its conclusion.
One of the main reasons the game remained close throughout was the struggles of San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker, as pointed out by Charles Tiu.
Champ Oguchi has 26 out of 54 points for Nigeria after 3 quarters. They are tied with france after 3!! and Tony Parker only has.. 3 pts!— Charles Tiu (@charlestiu) August 6, 2012
While people around France are just happy Batum was able to earn the team a victory, B/R's own Ethan Norof makes an NBA connection to his performance.
#Blazers fans will be thrilled if Nicolas Batum's game against Nigeria is a sign of things to come. Got a lot to prove after new $50M deal.— Ethan Norof (@Mr_Norof) August 6, 2012
Michael Cronin was impressed by Nigeria's play, but he thinks the team simply ran out of steam down the stretch when France pulled away.
Impressive effort from Nigeria. They held the ball a bit too much late. Probably tired.— Michael Cronin (@TMichaelCronin) August 6, 2012
Paul Garcia of ProjectSpurs.com provides the stat line for Parker's disappointing performance, but says he was likely be saved for the next round by head coach Vincent Collet.
Tony Parker finishes with 3 points (1/6 shooting), 7 assists, and 2 rebounds in just 21 minutes. Colliet saved his minutes for next round— Paul Garcia PS (@24writer) August 6, 2012
France would have liked to cruise to victory in this one so some of the team's top players could have gotten some rest before the knockout rounds, but that clearly didn't happen. It was a fight until the bitter end, as the two sides basically went shot for shot.
The French still get an above-average grade because they did manage to pull out the victory, and they did it despite the worst possible game from Parker. Other players stepped up in key moments, and that's a positive to take forward.
Make no mistake, however, France's level of play will need to improve markedly to play in a medal game. Today's effort won't cut it starting on Wednesday.
Which team deserves a higher grade for today's game?
Give Nigeria a lot of credit. The underdogs could have easily packed it in for the final game and allowed France to run all over them, but they didn't. They managed to keep the game close the entire way and nearly stunned a talented France squad.
Oguchi and Derrick Obasohan led the way. The duo scored more than half of the team's points. If they could have received a little more production from some of their teammates like Ike Diogu and Al-Farouq Aminu, the result would have been different.
The Nigerians still have a lot to be proud with regarding their overall performance today, ending on a high note after a couple big losses earlier in the Games.
Game MVP: Chamberlain Oguchi
Even though Nigeria wasn't able to pull off the massive upset, Oguchi earns player of the game honors because it wouldn't have been nearly as close without him. He had 35 points in just 33 minutes, including eight three-pointers.
American college basketball fans might have a vague recollection of Oguchi, who played for Oregon and Illinois State. He's been playing all around the globe ever since, but today's game was probably the crowning moment of his basketball career so far.
Ultimately, he didn't receive enough help from his teammates to finish off the upset, but it was still a memorable performance.
Will France win a medal?
France will advance to the quarterfinals, but the team's seeding won't be known until after the United States and Argentina play later in the day. If the squad can start getting more consistent production in the paint, the French will be a tough out.
On the other hand, Nigeria has been eliminated from the tournament. Unfortunately, the lasting memory of the Games for the Nigerians will be their 83-point loss to the United States, even though they did play better in some of the other contests.
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