LAS VEGAS – Team USA suffered an astonishing and sober defeat in their first show basketball match before the Olympics, being played by Nigeria in a 90-87 loss on Saturday night.
By the time they entered the game, the Americans had been 54-2 in show play since professionals began playing in 1992. Nine years ago, they beat Nigeria by 83 points at the London Olympics. Five years ago, Team USA beat Nigeria by 43 points in an exhibition.
Nigeria has five current NBA players and that talent showed up, especially in the physical defense and 3-point shooting. But the Americans started five All-NBA players and were executed.
Team USA, which had four days of practice this week, played a very isolation-heavy game as it was clear that there was not much chemistry yet. But with players like Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal, it has some of the best isolation players in the world.
But all three were rusty and annoyed by the size of the opposition and combined to shoot 9-of-30. Durant finished with 1
The Americans made a furious rally and had the ball twice with a chance to tie, but their performance was poor. After Team USA coach Gregg Popovich called his final timeout with 13 seconds to play, the ensuing possession was messy and resulted in no points.
Nigeria made a crushing 20 out of 42 3-pointers, repeatedly passing through Team USA laps and getting 21 assists. Guard Gabe Vincent, who plays for the Miami Heat, made 6 out of 8 3-pointers and finished with 21 points. Caleb Agada, who plays in the Israeli league, made three 3-pointers and finished with 17 points.