France was certainly the favorite in Monday morning's game at the 2012 London Olympics against Nigeria, but Africa's other qualifier -- Tunisia took Africa's automatic qualifying berth -- refused to go down without a fight. It ended in a loss, but Nigeria was able to keep it close for its last game in London before France pulled away for the 79-73 victory.
The French national team rested San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker for the duration of the fourth quarter, leading to a rather underwhelming three points and seven assists in the victory. France could afford to rest Parker, however, as Nicolas Batum came up huge with 23 points and six rebounds -- and the two connected on an all-too-easy alley-oop, too:
Fellow NBA player Boris Diaw filled the box score with 10 points, six rebounds and four assists while Mickael Gelebale contributed 11 points despite missing all four of his three-point attempts, but it was Nigeria's Chamberlain Oguchi who stole the show before Batum's fourth-quarter magic.
Oguchi, commonly referred to as Champ, has bounced all around the world during his basketball career (since going from Oregon to Illinois State during his college career, Oguchi's spent time in France, the D-League, the Philippines, Lebanon, Iraq and Venezuela). He likely earned himself a bit of a better job following Monday's momentous game in the Olympics, however, as "Champ" carried his team to a near-victory with 35 points -- 8-of-14 from beyond the arc.
Nigeria is now headed home while France awaits the results of Monday afternoon's game between Team USA and Argentina. Tom Ziller broke down the scenarios the French are awaiting in an earlier column:
France, which plays Nigeria in its final group game, has locked up a bid to the knockouts, but could enter as either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed. It would prefer the No. 2 seed, because that would estrange the team from Team USA in the elimination bracket. To win No. 2, France needs a win over Nigeria and a Team USA win over Argentina.
Alternately, France could get the spot with a win and an 49-point win by Argentina over Team USA. We would not recommend holding your breath for that result.
So France is either hoping for the USA to win by any amount of points or lose by 50 points. Whoa.