Nigeria Pre-Olympic Tuneup by Chris Filios
USA VS Nigeria 2012
Nigeria became the first African team in history to beat the USA when they took down the Americans 90-87 in a pre-Olympic tune-up. In the previous matchups between these two teams, the US defeated the Nigerians by 83 and 43 points.
2 nights later, they hammered the #4 ranked team in the world, Argentina 94-71.
While both games are exhibition tune-ups for the Olympics, they are huge wins for both Nigeria and the continent of Africa. With two wins over elite competition, Nigeria quickly becomes a team to keep an eye on at the Tokyo Olympics.
USA Vs Nigeria 2020
While the victories are a shock, the Nigerians do have a talented group. They boast 8 NBA players on the roster and are coached by 2009 NBA Coach of the Year and current Warriors assistant coach, Mike Brown. Current NBA players on the roster include:
Chimezie Metu Sacramento Kings
Josh Okogie Minnesota Timberwolves
Gabe Vincent Miami Heat
Jordan Nwora Milwaukee Bucks
Precious Achiuwa Miami Heat
Jahlil Okafor Detroit Pistons
KZ Okpala Miami Heat
Miye Oni Utah Jazz
This Nigerian team is young, talented, and confident. This is a new era of world basketball. In the past, most teams facing elite teams like the USA and Argentina would have been in awe of their opponents and not felt like they belonged on the same floor. Instead there was no intimidation at all.
The global game of basketball is shrinking. It is no longer just an American game. It has really become a global game. This is best evidenced by the growing number of foreign players in the NBA, including 3 of the 5 All- NBA First Teamer (Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, and Giannis Antetokounmpo). Unfortunately we will only get to see one of those three in Tokyo for the Olympics (Doncic), but many of the other teams will be represented by NBA players. The “2020” Olympic games might just be the most balanced and competitive games top to bottom we have ever seen.