LONDON (AFP) – Nicolas Batum scored 23 points, nine of them coming in a critical late stretch run, and France defeated Nigeria 79-73 on Monday in the Olympic men’s basketball tournament.
The preliminary round closer had no impact on either team’s fate, France (4-1) set to face Brazil or Spain in Wednesday’s quarter-finals and Nigeria (1-4) having been eliminated from medal playoff contention by Lithuania.
France rolled to a 41-30 half-time lead, but Nigeria’s Chamberlain Oguchi scored 13 points in a 14-4 run by the Africans to open the second half that evened the game at 44-44 and France led by only 56-54 after three quarters.
With the game deadlocked at 62-62, Batum sparked a 13-6 French run, hitting 3-pointers to begin and end the spurt and completing a 3-point play during the span, to put France on top 75-68 with 2:35 remaining.
Batum sank another 3-pointer with 30 seconds left to give France a 79-70 edge and seal the fate of Nigeria, which never led.
Oguchi finished with a game-high 35 points to pace Nigeria.