By Menelaos Sevastiadis
There was an upset in the final day of the first phase in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament and host Venezuela dropped out of the competition. Nigeria beat Lithuania 86-80 with Derrick Obasohan scoring 20 points and Tony Skinn with 15 points and 3 assist sealed the victory, while Linas Kleiza had 22 points for “Lietuva”.
However, that result produced a three way tie in Group B, where Lithuania (1-1) is first due to the point difference, Nigeria finished second (1-1) and Venezuela (1-1) third. It has to be noted that the host crowd at Caracas was rooting against Lithuania, which had beat Venezuela on Tuesday, without realizing at first that the win of the Africans would be their demise. When they did realize it, Lithuanian coach Kestutis Kemzura needed police escort in order to get out of the court.
In the most anticipated game of the night, Greece (2-0) beat Puerto Rico (1-1) 98-84 and claimed first place in Group A with Vasilis Spanoulis in MVP mode (27 points, 5 assists) and 14/24 three point shooting by the winners. New Zealand (1-1) got a 68-64 win against Angola (1-1) in a game that belonged to 17 years old Tai Webster (21 p., 5/6 3p.), but it was not enough for Tall Blacks to get a place in the quarterfinals. Russia (2-0) didn’t sweat against Dominican Republic (1-1) in a 84-69 win with Andrei Kirilenko having once again an impressive all around game (16 p., 13 r. 7 as.). The only bad news for the winners was the ankle injury of center Timofey Mozgov.
The quarterfinal games will be played on Friday and the couples are the following: Greece – Nigeria, Russia – Angola, FYROM – Dominican Republic and Lithuania – Puerto Rico.