The road to a fourth consecutive gold medal doesn't officially begin for Team USA's men's basketball squad until July 23. But the journey to defending its title has officially gotten off to a rocky start.
The U.S. fell in its first pre-Olympics exhibition game to Nigeria, 90-87, on Saturday night in Las Vegas. It was Team USA's first time playing together in its current form, and there appear to still be some kinks to work out for head coach Gregg Popovich and Co.
Nigeria, who's coached by Warriors assistant and former Cavaliers and Lakers head coach Mike Brown, was a 28.5-point underdog coming into the game, according to the William Hill Sportsbook. Nigeria features eight NBA players on its roster, including Precious Achiuwa (Heat), Chimezie Metu (Kings), Jordan Nwora (Bucks) and Jahlil Okafor (Pistons). The upset was the first loss to an African nation in team history and the first loss of any kind by the U.S. since Aug. 2019 (Australia).
Three Team USA players have previous Olympics experience: Kevin Durant, Kevin Love and Draymond Green. The last time these teams faced off in the Olympics, the U.S. cruised to a 156-73 in London that marked the largest margin of victory in the team's Olympics history.
Team USA's exhibition series will continue on Monday against Australia. The team will play three additional exhibitions before the Olympics begin.
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