It was too late to salvage Marcelo Huertas‘ assist.
But Nene saved Brazil’s medal hopes.
Despite missing a dunk set up by a no-look between-the-legs pass from Huertas – which rivaled Milos Teodosic for the pass of the tournament – Nene was otherwise splendid in a late run that keyed Brazil’s 86-69 win over Nigeria in their final group-play game Monday.
If Argentina beats Spain – 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Network and streaming here – Brazil will finish fourth in Group B and face Team USA in the quarterfinals. If Spain wins, Brazil is eliminated.
Nigeria is done with this loss.
Brazil pulled away with a 14-2 run in the fourth quarter. The possession after his missed dunk during the spurt, Nene intercepted a backcourt pass and finished that flush. A short time later, he led a fastbreak and shoveled the ball to Huertas for an easy layup rather than scoring himself.
Nene finished with 19 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block. Huertas added 12 points and 11 assists.
Brazil was just too tough on the offensive glass for Nigeria. Brazil grabbed 20 offensive rebounds to Nigeria’s 23 defensive rebounds, and that was mainly the difference in a game that stayed close until the fourth quarter.
Josh Akognon scored 16 points for Nigeria, which improbably entered the day with a chance to advance thanks to an upset of Croatia.