Lawal leads Nigeria to AfroBasket 2015 gold!
A rising Turkish Airlines Euroleague big man had an outsized role in making basketball history on Sunday as Nigeria claimed its first-ever continental championship by defeating 11-time winner Angola 74-65 in the final of AfroBasket 2015 in Tunisia.
Shane Lawal of FC Barcelona Lassa was the top-rated player for the winners, thanks to his 12 points, 8 rebounds and three blocks. The victory qualified Nigeria for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In the title game, Nigeria took a lead in the second quarter and never looked back, building it as high as 19 points before cruising to victory behind 19 points from Chamberlain Oguchi. Angola will join third-place Tunisia and fourth-place Senegal in next summer's 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments. Tunisia defeated Senegal for the bronze medal 82-73 despite playing without team leader Salah Mejri, who won the Euroleague crown with Real Madrid last spring.
AfroBasket opened month-long run of continental championships that continues with the FIBA Americas Championships 2015 starting Monday in Mexico City, where the host team features current Euroleague champion Gustavo Ayon. His Real Madrid teammate Andres Nocioni will once again be among the leaders for Argentina, as will Facundo Campazzo, who won the Euroleague title with them last spring. Dominican Republic will feature new Panathinaikos Athens player James Feldeine as well as Eulis Baez of Eurocup runner-up Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas. A Eurocup rookie, Philip Scrubb, who will make his pro debut this season with AEK Athens, will play for Canada.