The Nigerian Basketball Team fell 82-86 to Venezuela in a game that served as a build up to both teams Continental aspirations. Despite leading for most of the game, the Nigerian team lost their way in the fourth as a barrage of three pointers from Venezuela sent the game into overtime.
Ben Uzoh, Stan Okoye, Jamal Olasewere, Michael Eric and Olumide Oyedeji, the Nigerian team came out strong and it showed as they took the first half 33-27. D’Tigers looked in control throughout the game, with former New Jersey Nets guard Ben Uzoh showing his quality from the point guard position, Uzoh was proving very difficult to stop keeping his dribble in tight situations, and when he was not able to find the open man, he converted easily on a series of nifty moves to the basket. On the inside, Lagos born Centre, Michael Eric who was making his debut for the National team was a threat on both ends of the floor, his ability to play with his back to the basket coupled with his defensive strength gave the Venezuelans problems throughout contest.
Another player who impressed on his debut was NEC player of the year Jamal Olasewere. Olasewere’s strength and speed caused a lot of problems for the Venezuelans on the open court, and defensively he provided the team with a lot of steel. As the game went on, the Nigerian team were unable to take advantage of a once comfortable lead, as the Venezuelans fought their way back into the game. With seconds left in regulation, Venezuela hit a three from the left corner to tie the game, and although Ben Uzoh would score on the ensuing possession, the basket was waived off as it was deemed to have come right after the buzzer.
Overtime saw the Venezuelans grow in confidence as they continued from where they left off, and despite the efforts of Michael Eric to bring the team back, D’Tigers will leave it a little to late as the sound of the final buzzer finally came. The team must now regroup for the next two games which will also be against Venezuela in Florida. More players are expected to join the team as camp continues. Game 2 is on Monday 29th July in Orlando,Florida.