Shocker: US Falls to Nigeria 90-87 in Pre-Olympic Opener

2 weeks ago 7

This is not however USA Basketball expected to unfastened its Olympic summer.

Nigeria astir apt didn’t expect it, either.

If determination was immoderate anticipation of invincibility for the Americans heading into the Tokyo Olympics, it’s already gone — aft Nigeria bushed the U.S. 90-87 connected Saturday night, an planetary shocker pulled disconnected by a roster chiefly filled by little-known NBA players that recovered a mode to bushed a radical of All-NBA, All-Star and max-contract performers.

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“We conscionable wanted to compete," said Nigeria's Gabe Nnamdi, who goes by Gabe Vincent erstwhile playing for the Miami Heat. “We cognize what USA Basketball means astir the satellite and what they've stood for for truthful long."

The U.S. had mislaid 11 games earlier Saturday successful large planetary play — Olympics and World Cups, mostly — since NBA players began filling the American rosters with the archetypal Dream Team successful 1992. None of those losses came against a squad from Africa.

“I thought that the Nigerian squad played precise physically, did a large occupation successful that respect and knocked down a batch of 3s," U.S. manager Gregg Popovich said. “Give them credit."

Nnamdi led Nigeria with 21 points. Caleb Agada scored 17 points, Ike Nwamu added 13 and Nigeria outscored the U.S. 60-30 from 3-point range.

Kevin Durant, who had ne'er earlier played successful a nonaccomplishment for USA Basketball successful 39 elder planetary games, had 17 points. Jayson Tatum added 15, Damian Lillard had 14 and Bam Adebayo 11.

“Just goes to amusement that we person to play better," Tatum said.

A batch better.

The Americans had gone 39-0 successful their past 3 Olympic seasons — including pre-Olympic exhibitions — connected their mode to golden medals and had been 54-2 successful large exhibitions since NBA players began playing for USA Basketball successful 1992. Plus, they’d beaten Nigeria by a combined 127 points successful their past 2 meetings, 1 astatine the 2012 London Games, the different a warm-up for the 2016 Rio Games.

Nigeria mislaid to the U.S. astatine the 2012 Olympics by 83 points. Lost to the Americans again 4 years aboriginal successful an exhibition, that clip by 44 points.

Not this time.

“Nigeria’s travel a agelong mode with their basketball,” USA Basketball managing manager Jerry Colangelo said.

Ike Iroegbu — a erstwhile Washington State subordinate who immoderate clip successful the G League — deed a 3-pointer with astir 1:15 near to enactment Nigeria up 88-80. Durant scored the adjacent 7 points for the U.S.; a 3-pointer, 2 escaped throws pursuing a turnover, past 2 much from the enactment with 16.5 seconds remaining.

Nnamdi made 2 foul shots with 13.2 seconds near to reconstruct Nigeria’s 3-point edge. The Americans ran 9.7 seconds disconnected the timepiece connected the ensuing possession without getting a changeable off, and Zach LaVine missed a brace of escaped throws — the 2nd intentionally — with 3.5 seconds left.

Precious Achiuwa got the rebound for Nigeria, and that was it. It’s lone an accumulation — but the upset was inactive of the monolithic variety, the 22nd-ranked federation by FIBA beating the No. 1-ranked squad and three-time reigning Olympic golden medalists.

Popovich heard the last buzzer and shook hands with Nigeria manager Mike Brown, the Golden State assistant, arsenic the Americans walked disconnected stunned.

“At the extremity of the day, it doesn't mean overmuch successful the standings arsenic acold arsenic wherever we're trying to get to," Brown said. “But it's a bully triumph for us. I don't deliberation immoderate African squad has been capable to bushed USA Basketball successful an accumulation crippled oregon a existent game. ... We're trying to get a small spot of momentum for Nigeria and for the continent of Africa."

The U.S. led 43-41 astatine the half, past pushed the pb retired to 52-43 aboriginal successful the third. But the Nigerians connected connected 3s connected their adjacent 3 possessions — Vincent, Achiuwa and Nwamu each connected — and conscionable similar that, the crippled was tied.

Achiuwa took 1 3-pointer each play with the Heat. It missed. But helium connected successful this one, arsenic did Miye Oni — who made 2 3s successful the 4th quarter, including the 1 that enactment Nigeria up for bully with 6:08 left. Oni averaged each of 1.9 points per crippled this play for Utah, and made 2 tremendous shots precocious Saturday to assistance seal the U.S. fate.

“We kept the crippled simple," Nnamdi said, “and came retired connected top."

TIP-INS

Nigeria: Achiuwa had possibly the night’s apical antiaircraft play with 1:23 near successful the archetypal half, reaching with his near manus to artifact a Durant dunk attempt. ... Nigeria outrebounded the U.S. 46-34.

USA: Darius Garland and Saddiq Bey were Select Team players who got into the game. The Olympic squad needed other players due to the fact that Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and Devin Booker are astatine the NBA Finals. ... The U.S. got 32 free-throw attempts to Nigeria’s 10.

FREE THROW DEFENSE

Nigeria’s Chimezie Metu had a superb play successful the 3rd 4th — committing what would beryllium goaltending successful the NBA. Durant was taking a escaped throw, and arsenic his changeable bounced connected the rim Metu reached up and knocked the changeable away. That’s a ineligible play nether FIBA rules.

INJURY SCARE

LaVine got wounded successful the 2nd 4th connected a play wherever helium was closing retired against Nnamdi. He went airborne aft a caput fake and came down awkwardly, grabbing astatine his near ankle earlier getting up and going straight to the U.S. locker room. LaVine was good and returned successful the 3rd quarter.

UP NEXT

Nigeria: Face Argentina connected Monday successful Las Vegas.

USA: Face Australia connected Monday successful Las Vegas.

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