The U.S. men’s basketball team lost to Nigeria in its first pre-Olympic exhibition game, its first-ever defeat to an African nation.
Nigeria, with six NBA players and former NBA head coach Mike Brown at the helm, won 90-87 in the first of a series of games in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
The landmark victory came nine years after the U.S. shellacked Nigeria 156-73 at the London Olympics, the U.S.’ biggest blowout in Olympic men’s basketball history.
That Nigerian team included one NBA player (Al-Farouq Aminu).
This Nigerian team includes Gabe Vincent, Precious Achiuwa and KZ Okpala of the Miami Heat, Chimezie Metu of the Sacramento Kings, Josh Okogie of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Miye Oni of the Utah Jazz.
The U.S. Olympic roster includes three players with Olympic experience — Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Kevin Love.
NBA superstars including LeBron James and Stephen Curry withdrew from Olympic team consideration before the team was named.
The U.S., coached by Gregg Popovich, is trying to rebound from a seventh-place finish at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, its worst-ever international tournament result.
Its last Olympic defeats came in 2004, when it took bronze. An overhaul followed, with Mike Krzyzewski leading teams to three consecutive gold medals.