Day 4 Women: BRA 82 - NIG 63
ATHENS, Iziane MARQUES (BRA) and Janeth ARCAIN (BRA) starred, as Brazil accomplished its third win in the 2004 Olympic Basketball tournament.
The bronze medallists of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games outlasted Nigeria 82-63, improving their record to 3-1 and getting ready for a crucial battle against Australia on Sunday.
Brazil will try to win by as many points as possible, in order to get an advantage in a possible tiebreaker with Australia and Russia. If Brazil loses to Australia, then the Opals will get first place in Group A and Brazil will slip to third if Russia beats Nigeria.
MARQUES led all scorers with 26 points (plus 6 assists and 4 steals) in a perfect performance, while ARCAIN contributed 21 points, 3 assists and 3 steals. Helen Cristina LUZ and Erika Cristina SOUZA (8 boards) added 12 and 10 points respectively in a game that was not as easy as the final score suggests.
Brazil led by 17 late in the first quarter, but Nigeria (0-4) fought with all its pride and strength cutting the deficit to six points, 33-39, two minutes before the half time break.
Nigeria would close the gap again to 9 (55-46), late in the third quarter, but that would be the last time they would threaten.
ARCAIN scored nine of her 21 points in the last period, while SOUZA scored 7 of her 10 to assure an easy last quarter.
Mfon UDOKA led Nigeria with 17 points (plus 7 rebounds), while Mactabene AMACHREE added 16 and Nguveren IYORHE contributed 15 points to a team that earned the applause of the crowd even if its losing streak extended to 0-4.
|Press conference quotes:|
Janeth ARCAIN (BRA), Forward
On their goal:
"Now we want to avoid USA in the rest of the tournament. They have the best team but I think that in Sydney they were better. We hope to win the third Olympic medal in our history and this time we want something more than the bronze one"
On the game against Australia on Sunday:
"It will be a tough game. We know that they play well but we believe that we can beat them"
On the team of Nigeria:
"They have a better team than their results suggest. It wasnt an easy game for us".
Sam VINCENT, Head Coach (NGR)
On the game:
"It's been a tough tournament. We struggled, we fought, we played hard, but we didn't have the experience and the maturity needed. In every game we learn something new. I tell my players to keep their heads high. We have what it takes to become a better team. People back home can be proud of what this team has accomplished. When you leave Africa, you learn how difficult it is to compete at this level. It will take us some more trips to get more experience."
On his player Mfon UDOKA:
"She's had an incredible tournament. We wanted to play her at the "3" position, so she had to work hard on conditioning and footwork. She has accepted the challenge well, and some WNBA teams are already interested in signing her."
On the role of his "American" players within the team:
"They are all solid players. In Africa there is no professional or collegiate league, so players don't get the chance to play competitive games regularly. These players do, and when they come to the national team they also play the role of assistant coaches, because they know so much the other girls can't learn at home and can teach them."
Mfon UDOKA, Forward (NGR)
"We played hard but made many turnovers, and these mistakes cost a lot against a team with fast guards. I feel I did a good job here, and it's again a goal of mine to return to the WNBA."
Machtabene AMACHREE, Forward (NGR)
"We played as hard as we could, then had a blackout. We had also a tough time getting calls from referees. We earned the experience and hopefully we can be back in four years. Brazil deserve all the credit; they have been here before and know how to win games."
Iziane MARQUES, Forward (BRA)
"It was a hard game for us. We could not afford to lose it. We want first place, and will fight against Australia to get it."
Antonio BARBOSA, Head Coach (BRA)
"Nigeria does not look like an African team. I would say it looks more American, since it has NBA and NCAA players in its roster. Their technique is American as well. In addition, they don't have the responsibility to get results, like our team. I liked the way my team played; this is the way I want them to perform, although we did not do that well in terms of shooting accuracy. Australia is a very tough team, with good players, and we need to play really well to beat them."
Source: Athens News Service