Nigeria-Lithuania Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated July 30, 2012
Although Nigeria is one of the bigger surprises to qualify for the Olympics, it's unlikely to sneak up on Lithuania. Fresh off a win in its Olympic debut, Nigeria looks to beat Lithuania for the second time in four weeks when they meet Tuesday in Group A Play. Nigeria began its journey to the Olympics by beating Lithuania 86-80 on July 4 in the qualifying tournament in Venezuela. The African nation needed to win after losing its first game to the host country, and followed up that victory by stunning Greece 80-79 two days later. Nigeria lost to Russia by eight points in the semifinals, but was able to earn the final spot in the London Games with an 88-73 victory over the Dominican Republic on July 8. Against Lithuania, Derrick Obasohan, who completed his collegiate career at Texas-Arlington in 2004, led Nigeria with 20 points, while New Orleans Hornets forward Al-Farouq Aminu added 16 points and nine rebounds. Lithuania trimmed an eight-point, fourth-quarter deficit down to one, but was unable to get any closer. Obasohan felt Nigeria got a bit lucky because Lithuania tired down the stretch after playing a game the night before, while his team was off. Both teams will have had a day off heading into Tuesday's rematch. Nigeria defeated Tunisia 60-56 on Sunday in a matchup between two countries making their Olympic debuts in men's basketball. Nigeria held Tunisia to 15 first-half points and looked like it would cruise to an easy win, but Tunisia pulled within two with 5:14 left in the fourth quarter. Alade Aminu, who played at Georgia Tech, then made a big 3-pointer and his brother, Al-Farouq, made of one of two free throws with 11 seconds remaining to seal the victory. Squandering almost all of a 19-point lead wasn't ideal, but the team likes where it's heading. "I think it sets us up nice," said Ade Dagunduro, who scored four of his six points in the final 2:29. "We're settled in, now that we've got that win behind us. Now we need to move forward. I like our chances but we've got to stay focused. And if we get up, we need to maintain the lead. We can't lose our composure." Lithuania, which bounced back from its defeat to Nigeria earlier this month to close out the qualifying tournament with wins over Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic to secure a sixth straight Olympic berth, didn't have as many positives to build on from its Olympic opener. In a 102-79 loss to Argentina on Sunday, Lithuania appeared to be outhustled. It allowed Argentina to shoot 11 of 27 from 3-point range and finish with 12 steals, to just two of its own. Linas Kleiza, who plays with the Toronto Raptors, finished with 20 points for Lithuania, while 6-foot-11 center Jonas Valanciunas, who will be a rookie for Toronto this season after the Raptors selected him fifth overall in the 2011, had 14 points but only three rebounds.
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