In the 2020 FIBA Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournaments, Nigeria is not only holding their own but also winning games in the pre-Olympics Exhibition Game.
On the night of Saturday, the 10th of July, Nigeria and Team USA faced off on the court in Las Vegas. As you probably could tell from the title, D’Tigers beat Team USA 90-87 in a surprise turn of events. No one at all was expecting this outcome for Nigeria. An international shock. But a pleasant one nonetheless. At least for Nigerians. Kevin Durant, who had never even played in a game and lost while playing for USA Basketball in 39 senior international games, had 17 points, 4 points short of Gabe Nnamdi with the highest number of points in the game. We made twice as many 3-pointers as Team USA and kept superstars like Kevin Durant in check. Nigeria received praise from all over, including the opposition with U.S. coach Gregg Popovich saying “I thought that the Nigerian team played very physically, did a great job in that regard and knocked down a lot of 3s. Give them credit.” Jayson Tatum, who scored 15 points, also states “Just goes to show that we have to play better.”
This is even more of a surprise seeing that this was not Nigeria and the United States first basketball encounter. Nor was it their first. In their last two Olympics exchanges, they’d beaten Nigeria by a combined 127 points, lost by 83 points in the 2012 London Olympic Games and 44 points in the 2016 Rio Games. I’d say it’s accurate to say that the Nigerian team covered their bases and caught up. We simply aren’t going away.
However, one was not enough. We came back to repeat the magic on Monday, only two days after our victory over the US, by beating Argentina. The world’s No. 4, Argentine Soul, was bested by D’Tigers with a whopping 94-71 demolition.
Nigeria is going up in the world and it’s about time everyone knows. The simple truth is: Naija No Dey Carry Last!
By: Joshua Osifo