Nigeria Basketball stun USA in historic win

BOITUMELO RANTAO

THE Nigerian senior national team continued their Tokyo 2020 Olympic preparation by defeating a star-studded United States of America team 90-87 in an exhibition game in Las Vegas.

Known as D’Tigres, Nigeria’s starting five, consisting of Josh Okogie, Gabe Nnamdi Vincent; KZ Okpala; Ike Nwamu and Precious Achiuwa, came out guns-blazing, matching the USA team shot for shot. 

“We just wanted to compete,” said Nigeria’s Gabe Vincent, who plays for the National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise the Miami Heat. “We know what USA Basketball means around the world and what they’ve stood for, for so long.”

Vincent stole the show scoring 21 points, with six made three-point shots and four assists, leading the team to the unprecedented victory. 

Vincent spurred on the younger players as forward Caleb Agaba powered his way to 17 points – all without missing a three-point shot in three attempts.

The United States team, armed with a plethora of star players, started with Damian Lillard; Bradley Beal; Jayson Tatum; Kevin Durant and Bam Adebayo. 

2015 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) Kevin Durant, who has never lost a game in team USA colours, scored 17 points in the outing. 

The all-star combination controlled the tempo of the game but lost the battle later on as the Nigerians roared to the first victory by an African team over the USA basketball team.

D’Tigres Coach Mike Brown used 14 of his 15 listed players, as centre Jahlil Okafor was a doubt prior to the exhibition game, in an attempt to give all his players minutes ahead of the Olympics. 

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