Nigeria’s men basketball senior team, D’Tigers stunned former Olympic champions USA 90-87 in a pre-Olympic exhibition game Sunday morning.
It is the USA’s first-ever defeat to an African nation and coachGreg Popovich has been offering insight into why the Basketball powerhouse lost to Nigeria.
Nigeria, with six NBA players and former NBA head coach Mike Brown at the helm, won 90-87 in the first of a series of games in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
“I’m kind of glad it happened. Nigeria has been practising together since late June and we have been together for four days. That loss means nothing if we don’t learn from it, but it can be the most important thing in this tournament for us to learn lessons from it. I don’t think anyone should act nor would we act [like] that this is the end of the world.”
Popovich also remarked that the Africans were better at three-pointers after Nigeria went 20 for 42, making twice as many as the U.S and also won the rebounding battle 46-34.
“Everybody expects us to win every game, and that puts some pressure on you, for a new group in a tough circumstance,” said Popovich, who’s been in the job since succeeding Mike Krzyzewski after the 2016 Rio Games.
This victory, though in an exhibition game, comes nine years after the USA annihilated Nigeria 156-73 at the 2012 London Olympics, the U.S.’ biggest blowout in Olympic men’s basketball history.
Much is expected from this Nigerian team, least of all becoming the first African team to reach the quarter-finals of the Olympics.
With six players from the NBA, including Gabe Vincent, Precious Achiuwa and KZ Okpala of the Miami Heat, Chimezie Metu of the Sacramento Kings, Josh Okogie of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Miye Oni of the Utah Jazz as well as Jahlil Okafor and Jordan Nwora also in the player pool, Nigeria may field the largest contingent of NBA players on a single Olympic roster for any non-American nation in history.