LAS VEGAS (AP) — This isn’t how USA Basketball anticipated to open its Olympic summer season.
Nigeria in all probability didn’t anticipate it, both.
If there was any expectation of invincibility for the People heading into the Tokyo Olympics, it’s already gone — after Nigeria shocked the U.S. 90-87 on Saturday night time.
Nigeria pulled off a world shocker with a roster primarily stuffed of little-known NBA gamers that discovered a approach to beat a gaggle of All-NBA, All-Star and max-contract performers.
“I believed that the Nigerian crew performed very bodily, did an incredible job in that regard and knocked down a variety of 3s,” U.S. coach Gregg Popovich stated. “Give them credit score.”
Gabe Nnamdi, who goes by Gabe Vincent when enjoying for the Miami Warmth, led Nigeria with 21 factors. Caleb Agada scored 17 factors, Ike Nwamu added 13 and Nigeria outscored the U.S. 60-30 from 3-point vary.
Kevin Durant, who had by no means earlier than performed in a loss for USA Basketball in 39 senior worldwide video games, had 17 factors. Jayson Tatum added 15, Damian Lillard had 14 and Bam Adebayo 11.
“Simply goes to point out that now we have to play higher,” Tatum stated.
The People had gone 39-0 of their final three Olympic seasons — together with pre-Olympic exhibitions — on their approach to gold medals and had been 54-2 in main exhibitions since NBA gamers started enjoying for USA Basketball in 1992. Plus, they’d overwhelmed Nigeria by a mixed 127 factors of their final two conferences, one on the 2012 London Video games, the opposite a warm-up for the 2016 Rio Video games.
Nigeria misplaced to the U.S. on the 2012 Olympics by 83 factors. Misplaced to the People once more 4 years later in an exhibition, that point by 44 factors.
Not this time.
“Nigeria’s come a great distance with their basketball,” USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo stated.
Ike Iroegbu — a former Washington State participant who a while within the G League — hit a 3-pointer with about 1:15 left to place Nigeria up 88-80. Durant scored the subsequent seven factors for the U.S.; a 3-pointer, two free throws following a turnover, then two extra from the road with 16.5 seconds remaining.
Nnamdi made two foul photographs with 13.2 seconds left to revive Nigeria’s 3-point edge. The People ran 9.7 seconds off the clock on the following possession with out getting a shot off, and Zach LaVine missed a pair of free throws — the second deliberately — with 3.5 seconds left.
Treasured Achiuwa obtained the rebound for Nigeria, and that was it. It’s solely an exhibition — however the upset was nonetheless of the large selection, the Twenty second-ranked nation by FIBA beating the No. 1-ranked crew and three-time reigning Olympic gold medalists.
Popovich heard the ultimate buzzer and shook palms with Nigeria coach Mike Brown, the Golden State assistant, because the People walked off shocked.
There was an damage scare for the People late within the second quarter, when LaVine obtained harm on a play the place he was closing out in opposition to Nnamdi. He went airborne after a head faux and got here down awkwardly, grabbing at his left ankle earlier than getting up and going on to the U.S. locker room.
LaVine was wonderful and returned within the third quarter.
The larger scare was the scoreboard. Nigeria trailed solely 43-41 on the half, led for lengthy stretches of the opening 20 minutes, and easily wasn’t going away.
Achiuwa had maybe the night time’s prime defensive play with 1:23 left within the first half, reaching together with his left hand to dam a Durant dunk try.