Basketball: Nigeria D’Tigers in Historic Win Over USA

LAS VEGAS (AP) — This is not how USA Basketball expected to open its Olympic summer.

Nigeria probably didn’t expect it, either.

If there was any expectation of invincibility for the Americans heading into the Tokyo Olympics, it’s already gone — after Nigeria beat the U.S. 90-87 on Saturday night, an international shocker pulled off by a roster primarily filled by little-known NBA players that found a way to beat a group of All-NBA, All-Star and max-contract performers.

“We just wanted to compete,” said Nigeria’s Gabe Nnamdi, who goes by Gabe Vincent when playing for the Miami Heat. “We know what USA Basketball means around the world and what they’ve stood for for so long.”

The U.S. had lost 11 games before Saturday in major international play — Olympics and World Cups, mostly — since NBA players began filling the American rosters with the first Dream Team in 1992. None of those losses came against a team from Africa.

The 90-87 defeat, which came nine years after the former African champions lost by 83 points to the US at the 2012 Olympics in London, handed the Americans their first slump to an African nation.

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Team USA, ranked number 1 by FIBA, started the game with a lineup that included a player of Nigerian origin Bam Adebayo, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum

The 22nd-ranked Nigerians, tutored by Golden State Warriors’ assistant head coach Mike Brown, had seven players currently playing in the NBA.

“In a way, I’m kind of glad it happened,” Team USA coach Gregg Popovich said after the game.

“That means nothing if we don’t learn from it. It could be the most important thing in this tournament for us.”

Nigeria had a line up that included Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent who ended the game with 21 points.

There were 42 three-pointers in the game. 20 of those were made by the Nigerians.

“It was an exhibition and at the end of the day it doesn’t mean mu7ch in the standings,” said Mike Brown. “But it’s a good win for us. I don’t think any African team has been able to beat USA Basketball.”

Additional compilation from. The GUARDIAN Nigeria

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