Finally, the Olympic basketball tournament field is set.
Nigeria — led by 25 points on 14 shots plus 10 boards Ike Diogu (he formerly of the Spurs, Clippers, Pacers, Kings, Blazers and Warriors) — earned the final spot in the tournament by knocking off the Dominican Republic in a third-place game in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Venezuela.
The night before Russia (by far the best team in the tournament) and Lithuania qualified with wins that sent the DR and Nigeria to the do-or-die game.
Nigeria was the better side most of the game — they were up 8 at the half and led most of the way — but the Dominican Republic never went away with Francisco Garcia who had 17 points.
The game was tied with less than six minutes left, but the Diogu hit two three pointers and Nigeria took control again. New Orleans’ Al-Farouq Aminu added 14 points and five blocks for Nigeria.
The Dominican Republic should have had the best player on the floor with the Hawks Al Horford, but he had just 12 points as foul trouble kept him in check.
So the field for London is set. The 12-team tournament starts July 29 with play in the two six-team groups (four from each advance to the knockout tournament). The groups are:
Group A: United States, France, Argentina, Tunisia, Lithuania, Nigeria.
Group B: Great Britain, Spain, Brazil, Australia, China, Russia.