Yeah, it was a friendly match game, at least so they call it. But is this an omen?
What comes to your mind when someone mentions Nigeria? Well, is it the home of Nollywood superstars? The Naijabeats? The home of scammers lol! Or sadly, Boko Haram? Nigeria, just like any other country, has its flaws but notwithstanding it is a beautiful country with amazing people. Nigeria is emerging as a “Powerhouse” in sports, and for the purpose of this article in “basketball game”
Let’s shift our focus to Tokyo Olympics and Basketball to be specific. Nigerian men and women teams are now positioned to carrying the African flag high in basketball. This time around Nigeria’s men basketball team seems to mean business and hopefully, they win the Gold in the Olympics.
Nigeria became the first African country to beat the USA men’s basketball team in history. Wait, what? Do you mean soccer or football as Nigerians themselves and Africans call it? No! We are talking basketball – a game that not even the Nigerian millennials can boast of being able to play effectively a decade and half ago! Who could have imagined that of the 54 countries in Africa that it would be Nigeria, a country that is not traditionally known for basketball could be the first country to achieve this feat? The team again went against all odds to defeat Argentina’s men’s basketball team, let’s not forget Argentina is ranked as World no. 4. USA no. 1, and Nigeria sandwiched between Canada and Iran at no. 22 in FIBA ranking.
Fam, let’s talk about the game that shocked the World, yes USA vs Nigeria.
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The USA loss to Nigeria got the whole of America shaking literally. On Sunday morning in Las Vegas, Nevada, Nigeria’s basketball team, the D’Tigers, stunned the United States 90-87 in a pre-Olympic basketball friendly. Nigeria became the first African nation to defeat the United States, which was playing the first of five tune-up games before the Tokyo Olympics, with six NBA players and veteran NBA head coach Mike Brown at the helm. Since a 98-94 loss to Australia prior to the FIBA World Cup in 2019, the USA team has not lost an exhibition game. Team USA now has a 54-3 record in exhibition games since 1992, when NBA players were first allowed to compete in the Olympics.
It was the first time the United States has ever lost to an African team – at least in basketball. In August 2012, at the London Olympics, they defeated Nigeria 156-73.
Nigeria’s coach Brown comments
Worth noting: He has coached LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Steph Curry. Team Nigeria is his current.
Despite the fact that it was a friendly match, it was a tremendous win for them and our confidence,” Brown noted in interview days following the victory. “But… more crucially, [for] Nigeria, Africa, and the diaspora all over the world.”
USA Coach Comments
“That loss means nothing if we don’t learn from it,” US coach Gregg Popovich.
Nigeria’s roster included a few NBA players, notably Sacramento Kings’ Chimezie Metu, Minnesota Timberwolves Josh Okogie, and Utah Jazz’s Miye Oni. Mike Brown, a Golden State Warriors assistant, is the team’s coach. Against Team USA, Nigeria made nearly half of its 40 3-point shots.
The Stars of the match
While names like LeBron James and Stephen Curry have pulled out of contention for the Olympics, the roster remains filled with gold medalists for Team USA.
Fam, now this is interesting. Team USA’s starting five of Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant, and Bam Adebayo was upset by the Nigerians. Who could have imagined!
Kevin Durant, who had never lost in 39 senior international games for USA Basketball, scored 17 points. Jayson Tatum had 15 points, Damian Lillard had 14 points, and Bam Adebayo had 11 points.
Gabe Vincent topped all scorers with 21 points and six 3-pointers for Nigeria, averaging 4.8 points in 13.1 minutes per game with the Miami Heat last season. Vincent stated, “Mike has done a fantastic job with us thus far.” “So far, the camp has been fantastic. We had to start from the ground up and create a new culture, with new plays and everything. A lot of new guys have joined us.
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“When you play for a country, it’s a little different. Currently, we are the continent’s representative. It means a lot to us, and I hope we were able to convey that to you tonight.
At the 2012 Olympic Games, Nigeria was defeated by the United States by a tally of 83 points. Four years later, in another exhibition, they were defeated by the Americans by 44 points.
This time round Nigerians said NO! For sure, the team has come a long way.
Your Turn: Nigeria men’s basketball team did great. Do you think they can replicate the same and knock out the team USA in the Olympics? Please let us know in the comment section below.