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Basketball: Nigeria upset USA to 90-87 points win in friendly

Nigeria caused an upset on Saturday night to win against the United States of America in a Pre-Olympic basketball warm-up friendly at the Michelob Ultra Arena, Las Vegas.

The D’Tigers cruised to a 90-87 points win over the All-NBA, All-Star and max-contract US side, becoming the first African country to hand USA a rare defeat in a Basketball match.

From the jump-off, Nigeria showed intent. Bam Adebayo slammed in two hammers for the US, but Nigeria went two up after 5mins to lead USA by 13-11.

Although the US gradually eased into the game to finish the 1st quarter leading by a point (23-22), Nigeria tried as much as they could to stay with them, going into the break trailing by just two points.

D’Tigers struggled initially in the third quarter but rallied to go on a 9-0 run, and top-scored the US by 25-21 in that quarter to go two points up heading into the fourth quarter.

The US tried hard to claw their way back, but when Michael Gbinije found the paint with 4s on the shot-clock, in a defensive play by the US, D’Tigers went 8 up, their biggest margin in the game.

Nigeria saw out the contest, and made history beating the United States for the first time ever, a real boost as they head into the Tokyo Olympics scheduled to start on July 23.

The West African side went into the game with echoes of the 2012 drubbing that saw USA make history when they won by the highest points ever at the Olympics, winning 156-73 in London

US coach, Gregg Popovich said after the game, “I thought that the Nigerian team played very physically, did a great job in that regard, and knocked down a lot of 3s.”

Jerry Colangelo, the managing director of USA basketball for the last 16 years, said at the halftime interview, “Nigeria has come a long way. They can all shoot the ball pretty damn well. They are aggressive and they are playing really well, and that is a tribute to them.”

Nigeria will seek to take this form to Tokyo where they will play Italy, Germany and Australia in Group B.

The D’Tigers, the lowest FIBA-ranked team in their group, kick off their third consecutive Olympic Games appearance against Australia, FIBA-ranked No.3, at the Saitama Super Arena on July 25.