Nigeria stun Greece 80-79 to qualify for the London Olympics – FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Going into the game against European giants Greece, Ade Dagunduro had an average tournament. However, when it mattered the most, the Nigerian guard pulled off one of his best performances ever, helping his team win 80-79 and secure a ticket to the 2012 London Olympics.
With 44 seconds remaining in the game and Greece holding onto a 76-75 lead, Dagunduro knocked down a triple. That was however countered by a long range dagger from Kostas Papanikolau and with 13 seconds to go, the Greeks just held on by a point.
Nigeria, desperate to find one last shot, gave the ball to Dagunduro, who drew a crucial foul on Nikos Zisis and the Africans immediately took a timeout. When play returned an ice cool Dagunduro slipped in both of his shots from the charity stripe and Nigeria went on to win.
He ended the night with 14 points while Ike Diogu led the way with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Al Farooq Aminu, the New Orleans Hornets player, also managed 13 points with 5 boards while Alade Aminu had 9 points and 7 rebounds.
The Greeks were paced by their phenomenal point guard Vasileios Spanoulis, who ended with a game-high 25 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Two guard Kostas Vasileiadis also had 18 points and 5 boards.
Greece had a 10-2 start to the game, but the Africans stormed back into the game and closed the first quarter with the scores tied on 21 points.
The Greeks showed their pedigree in the second frame, which they opened up with 8 consecutive points. The Nigerians pulled back within four, 34-30, with a tad above three minutes remaining till the break, but the Greeks asserted their authority with yet another 8-0 run and went into the break with a 42-30 lead.
After letting themselves down in the second quarter, the Nigerians thundered their way back into the game in the third and reeled off a 16-7 right at the start of the period to make it a three point game at 46-49. The Greeks however pushed the lead to six by the time the stanza ended.
Nigeria made early inroads into the Greek advantage in the last quarter and tied the game at 65 with 6:06 left on the clock. The game was tied thrice in the following passage before an Aminu deuce finally gave Nigeria the lead with 2:01 remaining.
With 1:10 left to play, Dagunduro connected on a deuce to make it 75-72, but the Greeks scored the next four to take the lead. The Europeans fought hard down the stretch but a Dagunduro special was a bit too much for them.