In the run-up to that match it was something unthinkable, but incredibly it happened. It marks one year since Nigeria’s historic win over the United States in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It was the first time the American team had lost to an African team in its history.
Prior to that friendly, the last game the United States and Nigeria played was a 156-73 victory for the Americans at London 2012, the biggest victory in basketball history at the Olympics. It was also the highest points mark, but who would have expected that Nigeria could beat the United States?
The Americans, led by Gregg Popovich, had just failed in the 2015 World Cup in China, finishing in seventh place. They put together the best team possible to get their revenge at the Olympics, and while they did win the gold medal, the Nigerians gave them quite a scare in the build-up.
The match took place in Las Vegas and was a tight 90-87 victory for Nigeria. The Africans, led by Mike Brown, put together a team with a majority of NBA players, but then they did not have a good tournament in Tokyo. Josh Okogie, Gabe Vincent and Precious Achiwa were the flag bearers for a fine African team, who had the luxury of making history against the United States.
Durant with 17 and Tatum with 15 were the Americans’ top scorers, but the Nigerians scored 20 triples in 42 possible attempts and it was the trigger for that historic victory. Miami Heat player Gabe Vincent was the game’s leading scorer with 21 points and 6/8 shooting from three points.
One year has passed since the greatest epic of African basketball and, although they did not advance much in the Tokyo Olympics (they were left out in the first round), they gave the United States a great scare by beating them in their country and it was the first victory of an African team over the greatest winners in basketball history.