Day 1 of the 2012 Olympic Qualifying Tournament

Greivis Vasquez hit his stride at the right time as
Venezuela won a close on over Nigeria.

The game of the day was in Group D, where perennial Olympians Angola made a clear statement of their intention to return to sport’s holy grail.

The Africans burst out to a 17-point second-quarter lead against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (MKD), with guard Olimpio Cipriano (23 points, 5 rebounds) scoring 11 dazzling points in the period.

But MKD scoring machine Bo McCalebb (21 points, 4 assists) led a second-half charge that reduced the margin to two points late in the game.

Ultimately, though, the power of Eduardo Mingas (24 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds) and some hard-nosed defense were enough to secure an 88-84 victory for Angola.

The most intense game of the day matched Group B rivals Venezuela against Nigeria in front of a sold out Poliedro de Caracas.

While it appeared a stunning third-quarter cameo from Venezuelan star Greivis Vasquez (24 points) had secured victory, Nigeria charged back from an 11-point deficit to take the lead early in the final term.

Vasquez then made a series of classy drives against the tough Nigerian defense – which spectacularly blocked eight shots – to extend the margin.

Nigeria refused to give in, closing the gap repeatedly and then creating a shot to send the game into overtime in the dying seconds.

An enormous block, however, from Hector Romero (10 points, 4 rebounds) sealed the win and sent the crowd into delirium.

Ike Diogu (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Anthony Skinn (10 points, 4 assists, 3 steals) led the way for Nigeria.

In the earlier games, Russia easily beat Korea in Group C despite conceding 16 turnovers and 11 offensive rebounds in the first half.

The Europeans prevailed, 91-56, led by Andrei Kirilenko’s 16 points and six rebounds, with captain Sergey Monya provided strong support with 14 points and six rebounds.

For Korea, only center Lee Seung-Jun (aka Eric Sandrin) (15 points) reached double figures.

Greece delivered an ominous warning with an efficient 107-63 dismantling of an undermanned Jordan in Group A.

The Greeks nailed 29-of-38 from two-point range and won the boards, 51-21, as Jordan found no answer for their size, ruthless execution, and speed in the open court.

Young gun Kostas Papanikolaou (19 points, 5 rebounds) led five players in double figures for the victors, while Enver Soobzokov was Jordan’s best contributor with 14 points and four assists.

Konstantinos Papanikolaou and the Greeks
overwhelmed the Jordanians.
Olimpio Cipriano led the Angolans over the
hyped up Macedonians.
Andrei Kirilenko and the Russians dismantled
the overmatched Koreans.

Source: All recaps are from

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