LAS VEGAS – Team USA suffered a surprising and sobering defeat in their first exhibition match before the Olympics, being outscored by Nigeria in a 90-87 loss on Saturday night.
Coming into the game, the Americans had been 54-2 in exhibition games since the pros began playing in 1992 and just 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, particularly in their physical defense and 3-point shooting. But the Americans started with five All-NBA players and were eliminated.
Team USA, who had four days of practice this week, played very isolated, as it was clear that much chemistry had not developed yet. But with players like Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant Y Bradley Beal, they have some of the best isolation players in the world.
But all three were rusted and upset by the size of the opposition and combined to shoot 9 of 30. Durant finished with 15 points but made just 2 of his first 11 shots, helping Nigeria build an eight-point lead with less than two minutes to play.
The Americans rallied furiously and twice had the ball with a chance to tie but their execution was poor. After coach Gregg Popovich called his last timeout with 13 seconds left, the resulting possession was difficult and did not result in points.
Nigeria made a landslide 20 of 42 3-pointers, repeatedly going through Team USA rotations as they racked up 21 assists. The escort Gabe vincent, who plays for the Miami Heat, hit 6 of 8 3-pointers and finished with 21 points. Calab Agada, who plays in Liga Isreali, made three triples and finished with 17 points.