Shocked: The United States lost 90-87 to Nigeria in the opener before the Olympics
Las Vegas (Associated Press)-This is not the Olympic Summer Opening Ceremony that the US basketball team expected.
Nigeria may not have thought.
If there is any unbeatable expectation for Americans participating in the Tokyo Olympics, then it has disappeared-after Nigeria shocked the United States 90-87 on Saturday night.
Nigeria has achieved astounding results internationally with its roster consisting mainly of little-known NBA players. They have found a way to beat a group of all-NBA, All-Star and top-paid players.
“I think the Nigeria team played very well physically, did a good job in this area, and knocked down a lot of three-pointers,” said American coach Gregg Popovich. “Give them credit.”
Gabe Nnamdi was replaced by Gabe Vincent while playing for the Miami Heat, who led Nigeria with 21 points. Caleb Agada scored 17 points, Ike Nwamu scored 13 points, and Nigeria overtook the United States with a three-pointer 60-30.
Kevin Durant has never lost to the US basketball team in 39 advanced international games before, and he scored 17 points. Jason Tatum scored 15 points, Damian Lillard scored 14 points, and Bam Adebayor scored 11 points.
“Just to show that we have to play better,” Tatum said.
The Americans have won the gold medal in the past three Olympic seasons (including the pre-Olympic exhibition) with a score of 39-0, and since 1992 NBA players started playing for the American basketball team, their record in the main exhibition is 54- 2. In addition, they’d beat Nigeria with a total of 127 points in the last two games, one at the 2012 London Olympics and the other to warm up for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Nigeria lost to the United States by 83 points in the 2012 Olympics. Four years later, he lost again to the Americans in an exhibition game, with 44 points.
Not this time.
“Nigeria has made great progress in basketball,” said Jerry Colangelo, general manager of American basketball.
Ike Irogb-a former Washington State player who played in the G League for a while-made a three-pointer with 1:15 remaining in the game, giving Nigeria an 88-80 lead. Durant scored the next 7 points for the US team; a three-pointer, two free throws after a turnover, and then two goals from the free throw line with 16.5 seconds left in the game.
With 13.2 seconds left in the game, Namdi made two free throws to restore Nigeria’s three-point advantage. The Americans ran for 9.7 seconds in the subsequent possession without shooting, and Zach LaVine missed two free throws with 3.5 seconds left in the game-a deliberate second time.
Precious Achiuwa grabbed a rebound for Nigeria, nothing more. This is just an exhibition-but the frustration is still various, the FIBA ??No. 22 country defeated the No. 1 team and three-time defending Olympic gold medalist.
When the Americans left stunned, Popovich heard the final whistle and shook hands with Golden State Warriors assistant Nigerian coach Mike Brown.
The American suffered an injury panic late in the second quarter when LaVine was injured in the game against Nnamdi. He rose into the air after a head feint, fell awkwardly, grabbed his left ankle, then got up and went straight to the American locker room.
LaVine was very good and came back in the third quarter.
The bigger panic is the scoreboard. Nigeria trailed only 43-41 at halftime, took the lead in the opening 20 minutes, and did not disappear at all.
Nigeria: Achiuwa had the best defensive performance of the night with 1:23 left in the first half. He blocked Durant’s dunk with his left hand. …Nigeria surpassed the United States 46-34.
United States: Darius Garland and Saddiq Bey are selected team players entering the game. The Olympic team needs extra players because Chris Middleton, Jru Holiday and Devin Booker have all reached the NBA Finals. … 32 free throws in the United States and 10 free throws in Nigeria.
Free kick defense
Nigeria’s Chimezie Metu had a wonderful performance in the third quarter-his goals in the NBA are numerous. Durant was making a free throw, and when his shot bounced off the hoop, Metu reached out and knocked the ball into the air. This is a legal game under FIBA ??rules.
Nigeria: Face Argentina in Las Vegas on Monday.
United States: Face Australia in Las Vegas on Monday.