November 24, 2014

Former Huskers square off in Olympic basketball

It was an early morning for a pair of former Huskers, as Nigeria and Australia opened up Olympic play on Sunday. For Ade Dagunduro and Nigeria, the nation picked up its first-ever Olympic win with a 60-56 win over Tunisia, while Aleks Maric and Australia dropped a 75-71 decision to Brazil.

Both former Huskers made their Olympic debuts on Sunday, as Nebraska is one of nine NCAA men’s basketball programs with multiple Olympians in London this week. It is the first time Nebraska has had an Olympian in men’s basketball.

Dagunduro came off the bench to score six points and grab a rebound in nearly 17 minutes off the bench in Nigeria’s win. The former Husker guard was 1-of-5 shooting from the floor, but went 4-of-6 from the charity stripe, as Nigeria built a double-digit lead and held on in the final minutes against Tunisia, which downed Nigeria last year on its way to winning the he FIBA Africa Championship.

Early on, he hit a pair of free throws, as Nigeria opened the game by scoring 12 of the first 15 points to build a nine point lead 6:24 into the contest. Nigeria led by as many as 18 points in the first half before taking a 31-15 lead into the locker room.

The double-digit lead would not last long, as Tunisia opened the second half on a 10-2 run to whittle the lead to eight points. Down the stretch, Dagunduro played a big role after Tunisia pulled to within 49-57 with four minutes remaining. He found Al-Farouq Aminu for a 3-pointer to make it 52-47 before his basket with 2:29 left gave Nigeria a 54-49 lead. He added two free throws with 1:36 left to stretch the lead to 56-51, but Tunisia would make one last run, pulling to within two points, the last with 27 seconds left after a Makram Ben Romdhane basket. Nigeria would hold on, hitting 2-of-4 free throws to preserve the four-point win.

Maric had four points and two rebounds, hitting both of his shots from the floor, but played just eight minutes because of foul trouble. Maric had all four points and two rebounds in the first half, as Australia built a 24-19 lead, but Brazil would take control with an 11-0 run to build a 30-24 lead. Australia was within 36-35 at the break, but fell behind quickly as Brazil opened the second half with a 12-2 run to take a 48-37 lead with 6:52 remaining. Australia’s David Andersen led the comeback, scoring all 14 of his points to pull Australia within 73-71 on Joe Ingles’ basket with 29 seconds left, but could not get any closer.

Pool play continues this week, as Nigeria plays Lithuania Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. (central), while Australia takes on Spain at 3:15 a.m. on Tuesday.