Nigeria surprised the US men’s basketball team 90-87 in a pre-Olympic exhibition match at Mandalay Bay Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday.
The match is one of a tune-up match hosted by the Nigerian Basketball Federation for the team as they prepare for the 2020 Olympics where they face Australia, Germany and the Italy in group B.
Point guard Gabe Vincent, Caleb Agada and forward Precious Achiuwa impressed during the meeting. Achiuwa had perhaps the best defensive play of the night with 1:23 left in the first half, reaching with his left hand to block a Kevin Durant dunk attempt.
Nigeria converted 20 three-pointers on 42 attempts in the game, including six of 20 by Miami Heat goalie Gabe Vincent, who led the men in green with 21 points, four assists and two rebounds.
Caleb Agada had 17 points, three rebounds and two assists in 16 minutes while Ike Nwamu finished the game with 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes. Ike Ireogbu also impressed in the meeting, scoring 11 points.
Kevin Durant led the United States with 17 points, Jayson Tatum added 15 and Damian Lillard scored 14 points and Bam Adebayo 11 in a disappointing outing for the reigning Olympic champions.
Reacting to the victory, Vincent praised the impact of team head coach Mike Brown on the team.
“Mike has done a great job with us so far,” Vincent said after the game. “We’ve had a great camp so far. We had to build a new culture, start from scratch, new parts, all new. We have a lot of new guys.
“It’s different when you play for a country. At the moment, we represent the continent. It means the world to us and I hope we’ve shown it here tonight.
“It’s just all the hard work we’ve put in, it’s not a mistake what happened here tonight.
“We knew what it was. We’ve all seen them play at the highest level and take some huge shots. We knew what was going with it and we just had to play games. “
The match gave Nigerian coach Mike Brown the opportunity to downsize his squad from 15 to 12 for the Games.
He is expected to announce his final squad on July 17, before the team leaves for Kizarazu town in Japan two days later for pre-Games training camp, before moving to the Olympic Village.
D’Tigers will face Italy, Germany and Australia in Tokyo.
The next Olympic Games will be Nigerians’ third consecutive appearance in the history of the long-awaited tournament.
They made their debut at the London 2012 Games before making their way to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.
The Tokyo 2020 basketball tournament begins on July 25 with Nigeria facing Australia in their opening match at the Saitama Super Arena.
They will face Germany three days later at the same venue, before their last game against Italy.
No African country has ever won an Olympic medal in men’s basketball or passed the preliminary stage, but Brown, who is also the Golden State Warriors’ associate head coach, believes Nigeria has the potential to score. the story.
“There are more Nigerian-born players in the NBA than likely in any other country outside of the United States,” said Brown, who became Nigeria’s coach in February 2020.
“And so the talent is there. It’s just about organizing everyone and being on the same page and motivating everyone to play and want to be a part of it.
“We are looking forward to mixing some of this NBA talent with some very talented people who are playing professionally in Europe and abroad.”