Swagger and Valuable Achiuwa – How Nigeria beat the fabled Staff USA

Nigeria turned the primary African nation to beat Staff USA when it shocked the No. 1 facet 90-87 in a pre-Olympics exhibition game in Las Vegas on Saturday, and D’Tigers coach Mike Brown instructed ESPN that it was no fluke.

The uncommon loss was solely Staff USA’s third in 57 exhibition video games since 1992, and the final time the People misplaced was towards Australia in 2019. The 2 earlier conferences between the U.S. and Nigeria led to 83-point and 43-point blowout wins for Staff USA.

Brown, who’s an assistant coach with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, instructed ESPN that his group absolutely anticipated to win the conflict, and that come sport time in Tokyo in lower than three weeks, it is going to anticipate to beat Italy, Germany and Australia.

“The primary factor is, we anticipate to win each time we step on that flooring,” Brown mentioned. “So if we actually consider that, then once we win even an enormous sport like that, though it was simply an exhibition, we’re going to take it in stride, as a result of we all know that the following one — contact wooden — we might lose.

“So successful a sport [against the U.S.], yeah, it might affect or have an effect on lots of people. However I do not assume it is going to have an effect on this group.

“However come Olympic time, when the lights are on, we shall be prepared. Imagine that.”

Nigeria’s gamers had excellent performances throughout the board, draining 20 three-balls on an incredible 47% taking pictures from behind the arc.

On the different finish of the ground, Miami Warmth rookie Valuable Achiuwa’s commanding rejection on Kevin Durant’s tried block was emblematic of Nigeria’s defensive efforts, together with shepherding Staff USA manner out of taking pictures vary because it tried a possible tying three-point play with 13 seconds left on the clock.

Importantly, this was the primary time this rejiggered group below Brown was enjoying collectively. A scrimmage scheduled for the day earlier than the sport was canceled, leaving the gamers with nothing however apply time going into the matchup.

So how did they win it?

No concern issue

Most groups stepping on the ground towards Staff USA stroll on with trepidation, if not awe, understanding they’re enjoying towards a group with top-shelf expertise.

Not this Nigeria group. All the pieces — from the way in which they entered, the way in which they competed, their aggression and their taking pictures — confirmed they have been under no circumstances intimidated by Staff USA.

This regardless of the presence of Kevin Durant, Dame Lillard, Jayson Tatum, Bam Adebayo, Draymond Inexperienced, Kevin Love and Bradley Beal highlighting a stacked roster that performed laborious regardless of the “exhibition” tag.

This angle shall be vital for the D’Tigers going into the Video games and the long run. On the World Cup, they misplaced video games they need to have received, with many pointing to an excessive amount of respect for the opposition.

Coming away with the W after enjoying with such a fearless angle towards the world’s finest group ought to add confidence going ahead.

My Valuable

Achiuwa’s block towards Kevin Durant’s tried dunk was the spotlight of the evening and needs to be properly on its solution to changing into some of the iconic pictures of Nigerian basketball.

Brown mentioned the Miami Warmth rookie is a particular expertise: “He’s extraordinarily vital to this program. There isn’t any ceiling to how good he might be.

“As a younger man, you see the expertise, you see the dedication, you see the intelligence, you see the bodily and psychological toughness, you see the athleticism, the size, the quickness. You see all these issues, and when he places all of them collectively, he’s a dynamite on the ground, whilst a younger man.

“It is only a matter of him understanding how he can make the most of all these attributes each single second he’s on the ground. He’s nonetheless studying, and that’s the reason I say he isn’t even near touching his ceiling.

“And as soon as he utterly figures it out, it is a wrap for anyone that’s in entrance of him as a result of he’s that dynamic on the courtroom.”

If some did not know of Achiuwa, virtually nobody had heard of Caleb Agada, who went undrafted in 2016 and performs with Hapoel Be’er Sheva within the Israeli Premier League.

The 6-foot-5 guard was born in Ontario, Canada, and performed school ball for the College of Ottawa. On Saturday, he turned various heads when he went off for 17 factors, the identical as KD, and shot 3-of-Three from deep.

Previous guard was not missed

When Brown named his 16-man roster, some Nigerian basketball trustworthy have been shocked by the absence of two of essentially the most skilled leaders on the group, earlier captain Ike Diogu and his assistant Ben Uzoh.

The important thing query was how this group would fare with out two of its most vital leaders. Admittedly, their manufacturing won’t be on the similar degree because it was of their heyday, however there aren’t any higher glue guys to carry a group collectively.

That query was answered emphatically. Ekpe Udoh, Gabe Vincent, Michael Gbinije and Stan Okoye supplied management and steerage for the group.

And when that management helps beat Staff USA, there’s little extra so as to add. Diogu and Uzoh are irreplaceable, and their contributions to Nigerian basketball rank up there with the very best. However the efficiency from this group confirmed that the brand new guard will carry that legacy ahead.



Gabe Vincent says Nigeria shall be enjoying to win after they face Argentina of their exhibition sequence.

Do not give in to overconfidence

Nigeria’s subsequent sport is towards Argentina on Monday, after which it will face Tokyo group opponent Australia on Wednesday.

Brown mentioned that whereas Nigeria will go into the video games with confidence, will probably be about not beating itself: “We’re a assured group, hopefully not overly assured.

“That’s the reason it’s nice to have these exhibition video games as a result of we are able to get an actual sense of the place we’re. However we’re a assured sufficient group that we all know that something can occur at any time.

“We all know for positive that any time we step on the ground, if we do our jobs, we’re going to give ourselves an excellent probability of beating anyone that’s in entrance of us.

“I inform our guys this. If we actually play to our capability each time we step on the ground, on the finish of the day if we lose a sport, for my part it is as a result of we beat ourselves.”

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