Nigeria’s dreams are reality as they defeated Dominican Republic 88-73 in the final game of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caracas.
This will be the Nigerians first ever Olympics and they plan to not only have fun, but shock a few people on the way.
For the Caribbean nation, they will be now used as warm-up opponents as they leave South America with nothing but the fact that they will play USA on Thursday night in an Olympic warm-up.
But that Olympic warm-up game will be for USA – not the Dominicans.
Ike Diogu led Nigeria with 25 points, well supported by Al Farouq Aminu, who hit 14 and Derrick Obasohan, who ended with 11.
Francisco Garcia led the Dominican Republic charge with 17 points while Jack Martinez hit 16 points and pulled down nine rebounds, missing out on a double-double in every qualifying game by a single board.
It was the Dominicans who started the brighter of the two teams but Nigeria showed that they were no slouches either, by taking a 24-18 lead after the first quarter.
Both teams played up-tempo basketball, at times so energetic and fun to watch, Nigeria led at half-time 47-39, but there was a feeling that the Caribbean side as they were cheered on the local Venezuelan crowd.
The third quarter saw just that, as the Dominicans came roaring back into contention, taking their African counterparts by surprise as Nigeria’s frustrations at times got the better of them. Heading into the last ten minutes, Nigeria held on to a slender 59-57 lead.
It didn’t last. Nigeria stormed back and when it counted, made the big plays and swamped the Dominicans inside forcing them into tough shots.
Nigeria can now look forward to the Olympics along with their carnival-like supporters.