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Olympic Men’s Basketball: Nigeria vs Italy Prediction

Nigeria vs Italy | Who Has the Edge?

The Men’s Olympic Basketball Tournament in Tokyo thus far has not gone as expected. Favorites such as Team USA have fallen, while others have unexpectedly stepped up to the plate and have performed well.

This Saturday, July 31st, Italy will face Nigeria in a crucial Group B match. Italy is currently 1-1 but just came off a tough three-point loss at the hands of Australia, while Nigeria has yet to win either of their matchups thus far and are hungry for a victory.

In their first two games, Italy has looked razor sharp from a shooting efficiency standpoint as they have registered splits of 56-41-81. They have also taken good care of the ball as they only have eight total turnovers combined.

Currently, the Italians are second in their group. With a win this weekend, it would almost guarantee a spot for them in the knockout stages.

Nico Mannion (Golden State Warriors guard) and Simone Fontechhio have been the high scoring men with 21 and 22 points scored respectively in the last games outing against Australia. 

Surprisingly enough, Danilo Gallinari, who was magnificent for The Atlanta Hawks all postseason long, lacked aggression as he only attempted five total shots from the field in their last game. 

Could it be fatigue from a long grueling NBA season or is the international stage too much for him to handle? Regardless of what the reason may be, Italy will need his scoring in order to keep up with the stiffer competition.

As for Nigeria, there was some excitement going into the tournament, especially after they defeated Team USA in the exhibition games. While I was not one to overreact from a “warm-up game”, it did show they are capable as long as they are on top of their game.

Thus far, however, they have looked extremely sloppy and inefficient which contributed to their lackluster 0-2 start. In order to change their fortunes, they must get it going this weekend, as they enter a must-win game against the Italians.

Sometimes, teams play their best with their backs against the walls. Others, however, crumble and feel even more pressure. It will be interesting to see how they come out to start the game.

One bright spot for Nigeria has been the play of Jordan Nwora who put up 33 points, while shooting 65% from the field, in their previous game against Germany. In order for them to have a chance against Italy, Nwora is going to need some help.

Luckily for Nigeria, they have the personnel up front to match up with Italy. Guys like Jahlil Okafor and Josh Okokie have the size and strength needed to not only slow them down defensively but punish them down low in the paint.

It is just a matter of how they will utilize their size against them. 

Nigeria vs Italy Prediction

Considering Italy could easily be 2-0 in this tournament and are playing fairly well, I like them heading into Saturday night against an uninspired Nigeria squad who do not look like they belong.

Just like any other tournament, confidence and more importantly momentum are two things that you must have in order to advance. I like the direction Italy is going in much more than Nigeria which is why I have them winning the game. Look for Nigeria to get sent home before the knockout rounds even begin.

Don’t forget to check out our other Olympics predictions and picks!

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