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Patrick Gardner scores seven points as Egypt loses in bid for Olympics

New Zealand v Egypt: Group N - FIBA Basketball World Cup Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

Egypt, hoping for an automatic bid to next year’s Olympics in Paris, instead lost a heartbreaker to New Zealand Saturday in the FIBA World Cup, 88-86. Patrick Gardner, the Nets training camp invite, scored seven points and grabbed five rebounds for the Pharaohs but shot 2-of-7, missing all four of his three pointers.

Instead of an automatic bid to Paris, Egypt will now have to compete in FIBA Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer in hopes of making the opening ceremonies on the Seine in July. The automatic bid, given to the African team with best record in Cup play, went to South Sudan, the world’s newest nation whose Cinderella team is coached by Royal Ivey who had been a Nets assistant coach until this summer. He is now a Rockets assistant. South Sudan defeated Angola, once Africa’s powerhouse, 101-78, in a game player earlier Saturday.

Gardner started and played 22 minutes, but couldn’t find the range from deep. In Egypt’s four previous games, he had shot 40% on 3-point attempts.

Egypt outscored New Zealand in the first, third, and fourth quarters but fell behind for good in the third, getting beaten 25-10. After a 10-0 run erased New Zealand’s lead, trying the game at 83 with under two minutes left in the contest the Kiwis and Pharaohs traded 3-pointers before Reuben Te Rangi converted two free throws with 17 seconds left, which provided the margin of victory.

Although Gardner had an up-and-down Cup, he averaged 8.8 points and 4.8 rebounds, helping Egypt secure its first two wins in FIBA play since 1994.

Two former Nets helped South Sudan get to Paris. Wenyen Gabriel, a 6’9” big who played on a ten-day contract with the Nets in December 2021, scored 15, and Nuni Omot, another 6’9” big who was a camp invite and played with Long Island back in 2018-19, finished with 17.