In a historic display, Nigeria’s men’s Basketball team has defeated the United States in a pre-Olympic exhibition match played in Las Vegas on Saturday July 10th, 2021. This victory is very significant as it goes down in history as the first ever defeat for the United States by an African team in Basketball.
Going into this game at the Helm, many saw team US as the favorites, largely based on the results of a prior meeting between the two. During the 2012 Olympics played in London, the United States outscored Nigeria with 83 points, the game ended 156-73.
The Nigerian team displayed great talent this time around both in defense and offense. One of the greatest moments in the game was when Precious Achiuwa, a 21-year old Port Harcourt native superbly blocked Kevin Durant as he tried to dunk on him.
The US team has top NBA players like Devin Durant, Draymond Green, Damian Lillard, Kevin Love, Jason Tatum, Bam Adebayo, Bradley Beal and many others. The Nigerian team as well has notable NBA players such as Al-Farouq Aminu of the Chicago Bulls, Gabe Vincent, Precious Achiuwa, KZ Okpala who plays for Miami Heat, Chimezie Metu of the Sacramento Kings, Josh Okogie of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Miye Oni of the Utah Jazz.
Reacting to the game, the US head coach, Gregg Popovich said “I’m kind of glad it happened … 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 added whilst blaming the defeat on his side’s inability to train for a much longer period, relative to the Nigerian opponents whom he claimed were practicing together since late June. According to him, the US team practiced for just four (4) days.
Sports pundits have noted that Nigeria has a strong team going into this year’s Olympics. Are you hopeful that Nigeria will excel in the Olympics this year?