The great power faltered even before the gold quest had already begun.
The US National Basketball Association kicked off its preparations for the Olympics with a surprising and utterly historic defeat to German group rival Nigeria.
The team ceded around NBA star Kevin Durant 87:90 (43:41) in Las Vegas in his first-ever bankruptcy against an African team.
Kevin Durant is still the best in Team USA with 17 points
Durant was the USA’s top scorer, who was distinguished recently in the NBA but was eliminated from the title race with the Brooklyn Nets with 17 points, but his throwing rate (4 of 13) wasn’t convincing. Jason Tatum of the Boston Celtics came in 15th and Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers came in with 14 points.
Gabi Vincent of the Miami Heat scored 21 points for Nigeria.
Durant and co found no way, especially against distance throws, the Nigerians drowned 20 (!) three throws – six of them Vincent. Nigeria also outnumbered the basket, with a rebound rate of 46:34.
In the 57th Test Match, it was only the third defeat for the Olympic record champion since the debut of the “Dream Team” with Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson & Company in 1992 – the year the Pros earned the right to play.
Nigeria with seven professionals from the NBA
Nigeria, which had seven pros in the NBA and is managed by Mike Brown – assistant coach of the Golden State Warriors – had a hit of 73:156 against the United States at the 2012 Olympics in London. The last comparison, five years ago, went to the United States with a difference of 43 points.
The fact that Nigerians have now managed to upset the giant is evidenced by the development of international basketball, as Team USA has not been in circles for a long time.
But is there a risk of stumbling in the Olympics?
So far, the USA has won every Olympic championship since 1992, with one exception: In 2004, a team that competed with relatively little stellar strength was only enough to achieve a bronze medal, while young LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony especially remembered the 73rd place. 92: against Puerto Rico which earned them the nickname “Team Nightmare”.
However, given the state of preparedness, it is still too early to make reliable predictions about whether a new Olympic nightmare is looming.
Greg Popovich ‘somehow pleased’
“I don’t think anyone should pretend, and we’re not going to pretend this is the end of the world,” said US coach Gregg Popovich, who only had four training sessions with the team before the game.
“In a way, I’m glad it went like this,” said the five-time championship coach for the San Antonio Spurs — and he hopes it’s a learning curve.
By itself, Popovich’s side seems quite skeptical of gold – and there are also three players still missing due to the NBA’s parallel final series: Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns, Junior Holiday and Chris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks.
At the Summer Games in Tokyo (July 23-August 8), the United States will meet France, Iran and the Czech Republic in Group A. Nigeria will face Germany, Italy and Australia in Group B. Australia is the next opponent of the United States in preparation for Monday.