Outright favorites in the Olympics, the USA was outplayed by Nigeria 90-87 in their first practice match before the Olympics. In what must be counted as one of the most stunning upsets in recent history, the USA basketball team that included NBA stars like Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant, and Bradley Beal went down in their first of five exhibition games leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
It is only the third ever loss by the USA basketball team since the Dream Team played in 1992. A stream of 3-pointers took the Nigerians to victory. They made 20 attempts in all from deep down to stun the overwhelming favorites for the Olympics gold. The team the USA basketball team faced today was quite different from the Nigerian team they faced 9 years ago when the Americans prevailed 156-73.
Nigeria had its share of NBA players like Gabe Vincent and Precious Achiuwa of Miami Heats, and Sacramento Kings’ Chimezie Metu. With a total of 6 NBA players and helmed by former NBA head coach Mike Brown, who had coached Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers in the past.
The USA Basketball Team Lost Its Way In The 3rd Quarter
The Americans led 43-41 at halftime and were 53-43 ahead early in the third quarter. But the Nigerians came back with 3s immediately in the next 3 possessions and the game was suddenly tied with Achiuwa, Vincent, and Nwamu connecting.
The Nigerians are ranked 22nd in the FIBA world basketball standings. The USA basketball team was expected to easily go past the opponents with the likes of Draymond Green, Lillard, Durant, Jayson Tatum, Zach LaVine, Bam Adebayo in the team. They are the No.1 team in the world and are the reigning Olympic champions and have won three golds.
It is surely an ominous loss when one considers the 2019 World Cup. The USA basketball lost to Australia in a warm-up game and then went on to lose to Siberia and France in the World Cup before finally finishing 7th. The team was not as star-studded as the present team but was led by the same coach, Gregg Popovich.
The USA basketball team will have their chance to shake off their defeat when they go up against Australia on the 12th. They have 3 more games against the Argentines, the Australians, and the Spanish before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics begin.