2019 FIBA World Cup: Aminu vs. China

The Nigerian national basketball team will be heading to their third straight Summer Olympics after finishing the 2019 FIBA World Cup with the highest ranking among teams from Africa.

Needing to win its final game of the World Cup to be guaranteed a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after Tunisia defeated Angola earlier in the day, Nigeria held off host China in Sunday’s 86-73 victory.

After China pulled within three with just under five minutes left in the fourth, the Nigerians scored nine unanswered points to extend their lead to double digits. Josh Okogie, who is getting ready to begin his second season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, subsequently scored seven straight points after China closed the gap again.

Okogie led Nigeria with 19 points, while Ekpe Udoh scored 13. The San Antonio Spurs’ Chimezie Metu, who hit a big 3-pointer during that 9-0 run, finished with 11 points and the Orlando Magic’s Al-Farouq Aminu stuffed the stat sheet with six points, eight rebounds, six assists, two steals and one block.

Nigeria, which trailed by seven in the first quarter, shot 52 percent from the field and made 15 of its 17 free throw attempts.

Aminu will now have the opportunity to play in his second Olympics. The 6-foot-9 forward, who signed with the Magic as a free agent earlier this summer, participated in the 2012 Olympics in London. He wasn’t able to play for his country in 2016 in Rio, however.

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