The Nigerian men’s basketball team upset Team USA in historic fashion Friday night with a 90-87 victory in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“In a way, I’m kind of glad it happened,” Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich said after the game, via CBS Sports.
“That means nothing if we don’t learn from it. It could be the most important thing in this tournament for us.”
Team USA had never lost to an African nation before Friday; the defeat was just the third loss in Team USA exhibition history (with pros).
Miami Heat’ guard Gabe Vincent led the way for Nigeria with a team-high 21 points.
Nigeria shot 47% (20-42) from three on the evening – and squarely beat Team USA on the boards 46-34.
Team USA’s 2021 roster is notably smaller than it was in previous years; which has forced Cleveland Cavaliers’ veteran forward/center Kevin and Miami Heat’ forward/center Bam Adebayo to step up as primary rebounders.
Boston Celtics’ forward Jayson Tatum had perhaps the best performance for Team USA with 15 points and 7 rebounds.
“I think this is good for us,” Tatum said.
“We are going to learn a lot from film, regroup and stay positive.”
Team USA will look to rebound on Monday (7/12) in an exhibition match vs. the talented Australian team.