A crazy third quarter gifted Nigeria an 83-66 victory over Cote d’Ivoire here on Friday in the classification round at the FIBA Basketball World Cup, preserving its hopes to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
Nigeria, who has two wins after four games, is currently the favorite to finish the World Cup with a top ranking among African teams and book a spot in Tokyo.
“To qualify for the Olympics is our goal, we will do our best job to make sure we got the ticket,” Al-Farouq Aminu, the MVP of the game said at the post-match press conference.
Nigeria dominated the all-African battle with 44 points in the paint and 12 second chance points, while Cote d’Ivoire only recorded 20 and zero, respectively.
Nnamdi Vincent scored 15 points, Ekpe Udoh and Aminu had 13 apiece for Nigeria. Deon Thompson chipped in 19 and Mohamed Kone got 12 for Cote d’Ivoire.
Josh Okogie made a driving layup to open the scoring for Nigeria, before Ben Uzoh and Ekpe Udoh impressed to gift Nigeria a 24-16 lead in the first quarter.
Deon Thompson’s jump shot and Tiegbe Bamba’s three-pointer helped Cote d’Ivoire cut the deficit to only two points. Nigeria led 37-35 into the halftime break.
Uzoh scored six straight points to start the third quarter and inspired his team storm to a 14-3 run. The Nigerians enjoyed a 63-46 advantage to end the third quarter.
In the final quarter, Nigeria sent some of the bench players to the court but kept its advantage going well to the final whistle.
Nigeria will play China on Sunday. The hosts also need a win to secure their place in Tokyo.
“China is a very good team; they are well coached. They have crazy home crowd and experienced talented players, hopefully we will be ready for the game,” Nigeria coach Alexander Nwora said.