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Nigeria qualifies for Olympic men’s basketball tournament, hopes to end dubious streak

Al-Farouq Aminu

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06: Al-Farouq Aminu #11 of Nigeria moves the ball upcourt during the Men’s Basketball Preliminary Round match against France on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena on August 6, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Nigeria qualified for the 2016 Olympic men’s basketball tournament by beating Angola 74-65 in the AfroBasket final Sunday and in Rio will hope to end a long African nation losing streak at the Games.

Nigeria, starring 2012 Olympian Al-Farouq Aminu of the Portland Trail Blazers and guided by longtime NBA D-League coach Will Voigt, joins the U.S., Australia and host Brazil in the 12-team Olympic men’s basketball tournament.

In September, two nations from Europe and two nations from North and South America will qualify. In October, an Asian nation will join them.

In July, a last-chance global qualifying tournament will determine the final three nations. Angola, Tunisia and Senegal reached that tournament by making the AfroBasket semifinals.

African nations have lost 25 straight Olympic men’s basketball games to non-African nations, the last win coming by Angola over South Korea in the 11th-place game at Atlanta 1996.

For 2012, Tunisia won AfroBasket to qualify for the London Olympics, while Nigeria was the last of 12 nations into the tournament by placing third in a global, last-chance qualifying tournament.

In London, Nigeria beat Tunisia 60-56 in the first game of the Olympic tournament. Nigeria went on to lose to the U.S. 156-73 in group play, marking the biggest U.S. men’s margin of victory in Olympic history.

Angola, which made five straight Olympic men’s tournaments before missing in 2012, is best known for being the unfortunate first opponent of the Dream Team at Barcelona 1992, losing 116-48.

“I don’t know anything about Angola, but Angola’s in trouble,” Charles Barkley famously said before that game, during which Barkley elbowed Angola’s Herlander Coimbra in the chest, taking advantage of about a 75-pound weight advantage.

An African nation has never made an Olympic men’s basketball quarterfinal.

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