LAS VEGAS – Team USA suffered a staggering and sobering loss in their first exhibition basketball game before the Olympics, being outscored by Nigeria in a 90-87 loss on Saturday evening.
Before the game started, the Americans were 54-2 in exhibition games since the pros started playing in 1992. Nine years ago they beat Nigeria by 83 points at the Olympics in London. Five years ago, Team USA beat Nigeria by 43 points in a show.
Nigeria currently has five NBA players, and that talent has manifested itself, especially in physical defense and 3-point shooting. But the Americans threw five All-NBA players and were eliminated.
The United States team, which had four days of training this week, played a very isolated game, as it was clear that there was not much chemistry developed yet. But with players like Damien lillard, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal, he has some of the best isolation players in the world.
But all three were rusty and embarrassed by the size of the opposition, combining to shoot 9 of 30. Durant finished with 15 points but only managed two of his first 11 shots, as Nigeria built a eight point lead with less than two minutes to go.
The Americans rallied furiously and had the ball twice with a chance to equalize, but their execution was poor. After USA coach Gregg Popovich called his last time out with 13 seconds left, the possession that followed was messy and didn’t score any points.
Nigeria made a crushing 20 of 42 3-pointers, repeatedly passing through Team USA’s rotations accumulating 21 assists. Keep Gabe Vincent, who plays for the Miami heat, scored 6 of 8 3-pointers and finished with 21 points. Caleb Agada, who plays in the Israeli league, scored three 3 points and finished with 17 points.