23 August 2006

NIGERIA : Nigeria Lose Again, Coach Disappointed

By Patrick Omorodion

D' Tigers' American coach, Sam Vincent has expressed disappointment over his team's second loss in the FIBA World Championship in Japan with a promise however that he will use today's rest day to work out a winning strategy for the remaining two group games Argentina tomorrow and Lebanon on Thursday.

On a day Nigerians expected the team to stand the French team and ensure a second round berth, the Tigers' went to sleep especially in the first two quarters, allowing a Mamoutou Diarra-inspired Les Bleus to take them on some basketball lessons to end the first half with a 9 point deficit at 56-47.The Julius Nwosu-led team could only manage seven points in the first quarter, six of these came from star player Ime Udoka while France's Diarra who flew into Japan only last Saturday as a last minute replacement for Tony Parker was the Tigers' Achilles Heel with a back-to-back three pointers.

Like they did against Venezuela but still lost, the Tigers got into the game with Ekene Ibekwe in blistering form, and with support from Ebi Ere, they fought back to reduce the margin which gone up to 20 points at a time to 11 on a final score of 64-53.

According to Coach Vincent, "It's disappointing to follow a win like that (against Serbia & Montenegro) with two losses where we played poorly at times. When we came here we set ourselves a goal of winning two games and going through to the second round. It's still a possibility but we have some work to do tomorrow (today) to accomplish that."

He also blamed the tight match schedules which saw them play three games in three days for the loss especially for the older players."The older players are struggling with that many games. And playing against a team that runs up and down the court like France really exposed how tired they were. The day off will do them good," he said."Playing three games in as many days is bad enough but considering how we play, it's even more gruelling than you can imagine. However, it is our best ability so we must use it," Vincent added

Meanwhile Argentina held on tight to the leadership of the group with their third straight win over Venezuela at 96-54 while defending champions, Serbia & Montenegro shrugged off their poor start in the championship, whipping Lebanon 104-54.

African champions, Angola are still riding high as they recorded their third victory to ensure a second round berth. hey share joint first position with Spain in Group B. Host, Japan also won their match against Panama 78-61 while Germany were swept off by Spain 92-71.

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