Australia vs Nigeria
July 25, 2021 4:20 am EDT
The Line: Australia -7.5
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Australia and Nigeria meet Saturday night in the 2020 Olympics in a basketball meeting at the Saitama Super Arena. Australia is in the Olympics for a 13th straight appearance and hopes to win its first medal. Nigeria is making its third ever Olympic appearance and is the only African country to participate.
Australia finished fourth place in the 2016 Olympics and fourth four times overall but has never medaled. This year is expected to be different, as the Aussies are one of the stronger teams in the field. Australia is loaded with NBA players, including Matisse Thybulle, Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, Josh Green, Dante Exum, Matthew Dellavedova and Aron Baynes. If that weren’t enough, Chris Goulding is a three-time NBL champion, Nick Kay is a recent two-time NBL first-team selection and Jock Landale was a two-time first-team All-WCC selection at Saint Marys. Australia is deep, has legit chemistry and gets after it defensively. If you’re looking for a team outside of the US that could win gold, Australia is worth strong consideration. At the very least, the Aussies should leave Tokyo with its first Olympic medal in basketball.
Nigeria has earned a little bit of buzz this month after upsetting Team USA and Argentina in exhibition games. Nigeria has won five of its last six games overall. Team Nigeria also has eight NBA players on its roster, which is the most of any country outside of the US. Those players include Precious Achiuwa, KZ Okpala, Josh Okogie, Miye Oni, Chimezie Metu, Jordan Nwora, Jahlil Okafor and Gabe Vincent. Ekpe Udoh has nearly 400 NBA games under his belt and Stan Okoye was the 2013 Big South Player of the Year at VMI. Mike Brown is also the head coach of Nigeria, a three-time NBA champion as an assailant and was the NBA Coach of the Year in 2009. Needless to say, Nigeria is not a team to overlook and is playing these games with a chip on its shoulder. We’ve heard many times over the last month that Nigeria wants to prove Africa can be a force on the basketball side.
Australia has won all four meetings against Nigeria, including a friendly blowout earlier this month. This will be the first time these teams have met in the Olympic Games.
Nigeria has proven its not a pushover, it plays hard and the chemistry its formed these last few weeks has been impressive. With that said, Australia is comfortably the more talented team, has higher expectations and absolutely blew the doors off Nigeria a couple weeks ago when these clubs met. While it’s a feel good story, you’re going to see teams separate themselves early with the real games underway.
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I’ll lay the reasonable chalk with Australia.