LAS VEGAS — Team USA has fielded the Dream Team in the Olympics. Saturday night, it was a nightmare for the American squad.
Nigeria handed Team USA a stunning 90-87 defeat in its first exhibition basketball game before the Olympics, ESPN reported.
Nigeria, with six NBA players on its roster and piloted by former NBA coach Mike Brown, became the first African squad to defeat an American team, according to NBC Sports.
“I’m kind of glad it happened,” Team USA coach Gregg Popovich told reporters after the game. “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.”
The Americans had been 54-2 in exhibition games since professionals began playing in 1992, ESPN reported. At the 2012 Olympics in London, the American walloped Nigeria 156-73, NBC Sports reported. It was the Amercans’ biggest blowout in Olympic men’s basketball history.
Five years ago, Team USA beat Nigeria by 43 points in an exhibition game, according to ESPN.
Saturday night, Kevin Durant finished with 15 points but made just two of his first 11 shots as Nigeria built an eight-point lead. ESPN reported.
Nigeria’s team includes NBA players Gabe Vincent, Precious Achiuwa and KZ Okpala (Miami Heat), Chimezie Metu (Sacramento Kings), Josh Okogie (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Miye Oni of the Utah Jazz.
The U.S. roster includes three players with Olympic experience -- Durant, Draymond Green and Kevin Love. It is missing three of its 12 Olympic players -- Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton -- because they are playing in the NBA Finals.
“Tough times brings guys and teams and people together,” forward Jayson Tatum told reporters. “It’s not going to be easy. We knew that coming in.”
The U.S. is trying to rebound from a seventh-place finish at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, NBC Sports reported. It was the team’s worst-ever international tournament result.
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