SAITAMA, Japan (AP) — Patty Mills scored 25 points and Australia opened its quest for a first Olympic medal in men's basketball by beating Nigeria 84-67 on Sunday.
Australia matched its best finish by finishing fourth at the Rio Games in 2016 but is capable of going further this time with a veteran roster full of NBA players.
The Australians, ranked third in the world, pulled away in the fourth quarter of a game that had been evenly matched between teams with the most NBA players outside of the U.S.
Nigeria has eight current NBA players and the Australians seven. Both teams won exhibition games in Las Vegas against the Americans, who have 12 NBA players on their roster.
Australia opened an 11-point lead midway through the third quarter after holding the Nigerians without a basket for more than five minutes to open the second half.
But the Australians lost momentum soon after when the game was delayed because the horn was malfunctioning, and Nigeria cut the deficit to five early in the fourth.
But Matisse Thybulle of the Philadelphia 76ers made a 3-pointer and then Mills, the San Antonio Spurs guard who was a flag bearer for the Australians in the opening ceremony, helped break it open.
Obi Emegano scored 12 points for Nigeria, led by Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown.
Australia plays Italy on Tuesday in matchup of teams that won in Group B on the opening day. Nigeria faces Germany.
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