Nigeria became the first African basketball team to defeat the stacked U.S. team following the victorious 90-87 final score win in a Pre-Olympic friendly game in Las Vegas.
Nigeria, with six NBA players and former NBA head coach Mike Brown at the helm, became the first African nation to beat the USA, who were playing the first of a five of tune-up games before the Tokyo Olympics.
Nigeria, which had 12 NBA players in its 49-man training camp in California and seven in uniform on Saturday, was led by Gabe Vincent with 21 points.
“We kept the game simple,” Vincent said, “and came out on top.”
Nigeria’s win came nine years after the United States crushed the Nigerians 156-73 at the London Olympics.
Nigerian fans have expressed their delight as Nigeria shocked the United States in the pre-Olympic basketball friendly in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sunday.
Nigeria’s roster also featured a number of NBA players including Sacramento Kings’ Chimezie Metu, Minnesota Timberwolves’ Josh Okogie and Utah Jazz’s Miye Oni. Nigeria is coached of Golden State Warriros assistant, Mike Brown.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t mean much in the standings as far as where we’re trying to get to,” Brown said.
“But it’s a good win for us. I don’t think any African team has been able to beat USA Basketball in an exhibition game or a real game … We’re trying to get a little bit of momentum for Nigeria and for the continent of Africa,” Brown added.
The team was able to conver almost half of its 40 3-point attempts against Team USA. Gabe Vincent, who plays for the Miami Heat, scored a game-high of 21 points for the African team, sinking two free throws in the final seconds of the game.
US head coach Gregg Popovich said the US team defeat should be seen as a learning experience and not “the end of the world”.
“I thought that the Nigerian team played very physically, did a great job in that regard and knocked down a lot of 3s,” Popovich said. “Give them credit.”