This is now not how USA Basketball expected to open their Olympic summer. Nigeria potentially didn’t query it, either.
If there used to be any expectation of invincibility for the American citizens heading into the Tokyo Olympics, it’s already long gone – after Nigeria apprehensive the US, 90-87, on Saturday evening.
The final consequence marked the pinnacle-ranked United States’ first ever defeat to an African nation.
Nigeria pulled off an international shocker with a roster primarily stuffed of dinky-known NBA gamers that came across one intention to beat a community of All-NBA, All-Star and max-contract performers.
“We sincere desired to compete,” acknowledged Nigeria‘s Gabe Nnamdi, who goes by Gabe Vincent when playing for the Miami Heat. “We know what USA Basketball potential across the field and what they’ve stood for for thus long.”
The US had misplaced 11 video games sooner than Saturday in main international play Olympics and World Cups, mostly since NBA gamers started filling the American rosters with the principal Dream Team in 1992.
“I opinion that the Nigerian team played very bodily, did job in that regard and knocked down plenty of threes,” US coach Gregg Popovich acknowledged. “Give them credit ranking.”
Nnamdi led Nigeria with 21 points. Caleb Agada scored 17 points, Ike Nwamu added 13 and Nigeria outscored the US 60-30 from three-point range while outrebounding the hosts, 46-34.
Kevin Durant, who had beneath no instances sooner than played in a loss for USA Basketball in 39 senior international video games, had 17 points. Jayson Tatum added 15, Damian Lillard had 14 and Bam Adebayo 11.
“Ravishing goes to show that we now have to play better,” Tatum acknowledged.
The American citizens had long gone 39-0 in their last three Olympic seasons – including pre-Olympic exhibitions – on their intention to gold medals and had been 54-2 in main exhibitions since NBA gamers started playing for USA Basketball in 1992. Plus, they’d beaten Nigeria by a combined 127 points in their last two meetings, one at the 2012 London Video games, the opposite a warm-up for the 2016 Rio Video games.
Nigeria misplaced to the US at the 2012 Olympics by 83 points. Lost to the American citizens again four years later in an exhibition, that point by 44 points.
No longer this time.
“Nigeria’s come a in fact perfect distance with their basketball,” USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo acknowledged.
Ike Iroegbu – a feeble Washington Pronounce player who some time in the G League – hit a three-pointer with about 1: 15 left to build Nigeria up 88-80. Durant scored the subsequent seven points for the US; a three-pointer, two free throws following a turnover, then two extra from the line with 16.5 seconds remaining.
Nnamdi made two low shots with 13.2 seconds left to restore Nigeria’s three-point edge. The American citizens ran 9.7 seconds off the clock on the ensuing possession with out getting a shot off, and Zach LaVine neglected a pair of free throws – the 2nd intentionally – with 3.5 seconds left.
Treasured Achiuwa purchased the rebound for Nigeria, and that used to be it. It’s simplest an exhibition – however the upset used to be peaceable of the huge selection, the 22nd-ranked nation by Fiba beating the Number one-ranked team and three-time reigning Olympic gold medalists.
Popovich heard the final buzzer and shook arms with Nigeria coach Mike Brown, the Golden Pronounce assistant, because the American citizens walked off jumpy.
There used to be an injury fear for the American citizens tedious in the 2nd quarter, when LaVine purchased injure on a play where he used to be closing out against Nnamdi. He went airborne after a head false and got right here down awkwardly, grabbing at his left ankle sooner than getting up and going instantly to the US locker room.
LaVine used to be fine and returned in the third quarter.
The bigger fear used to be the scoreboard. Nigeria trailed simplest 43-41 at the half, led for long stretches of the opening 20 minutes, and merely weren’t going away.
The US are looking to rebound from a seventh-plot finish at the 2019 Fiba World Cup, their worst ever finish at an international match.
The American citizens’ previous closest sport against an African opponent got right here at the inaugural Fiba world championship in 1950, when the US narrowly obtained 34-32 over Egypt.
No African team has ever reached the Olympic quarter-finals.
The USA return to circulate on Monday after they face Australia in the 2nd of 5 pre-Olympics exhibitions.