The Nigerian national team was unable to make lightning strike twice in its bid at an Olympic medal, unfortunately, as it was unable to upset Lithuania for the second time in less than a month when they matched up in pool play Tuesday morning at the London Olympics.
Toronto Raptors forward Linas Kleiza and his Lithuanian teammates avenged their Olympic Qualifying Tournament loss to Nigeria -- held in Venezuela earlier this month -- with a 72-53 victory to improve to 2-0 in pool play thus far.
Kleiza led a balanced scoring effort with 13 points and six rebounds while teammate Darius Songaila, a bit player for the majority of his eight NBA seasons spent with five different teams, scored 12 points. Rimantas Kaukenas, a Euroleague veteran, rounded out Lithuania's double-digit scorers with a solid 10 points as Jonas Valanciunas -- last year's lottery pick who recently signed his rookie contract -- scored four points in the blowout victory.
The two teams stayed fairly close in the first half, but Nigeria's inability to knock down jumpers -- the African team made just one of their 16 three-point attempts -- eventually did them in as they were unable to recapture the magic that allowed them to defeat Lithuania (and subsequently earn their Olympic berth) at last month's qualifying tournament.
Nigeria's top players all performed reasonably well as NBA players Ike Diogu and Al-Farouq Aminu each scored 12 points apiece while Al-Farouq's brother Alade had 10 points and six rebounds, but the rest of the team failed to show up as Nigeria turned the ball over 16 times while making just 15 of their 50 shot attempts from the field.