Russia survived a tight battle with Nigeria, coming back from eight points down in the fourth quarter for a crucial 82-77 victory to start Group B play at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019.
Mikhail Kulagin paced Russia with 16 points while TCL Player of the Game Andrey Vorontsevich scored 14 points, Andrey Zubkov added 12 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists and Vitaly Fridzon chipped in 11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals.
Josh Okogie emerged as the top scorer with 18 points for D’Tigers. But his heroic showing wasn’t enough at the end as the the gallant Nigerian team lost their first Group B match.
D’Tigers took an early 4-0 lead at the start of the game, but the Russians soon overpowered them, then going on a 10 point run.
Alex Nwora’s charges trailed 18-13 at the end of the first quarter as they struggled offensively in the game.
Despite their spirited fight, the Nigerians still trail 25-17 at the end of second quarter.
At the end of the first half, Russia led 40-35.
D’Tigers however put up a good fight in the third quarter levelling scores at 58-58
They controlled the opening exchanges in the fourth quarter and led 60-58 at a point in the game. With four minutes left, the West Africans led the Russians 71-68.
The Russians rallied back with score levelled at 75-75 with less than a minute left.
It was however the Europeans who prevailed winning it 82-77.
D’Tigers will look to beat Argentina in their next Group B match on Monday, September 2, to stand a chance of progressing. Their last group game is against Korea on Wednesday.