Saturday night was the first of five exhibition games for Team USA. The team suffered a loss to Nigeria 90-87. A lot of things did not go in Team USA’s favor. Nigeria is loaded with NBA talent. The team consists of: Precious Achiuwa (Heat), Chimezie Metu (Kings), Jordan Nwora (Bucks), Jahlil Okafor (Pistons), Josh Okogie (Timberwolves), KZ Okpala (Heat), Miye Oni (Jazz) and Gabe Vincent (Heat). Two others, Michael Gbinije and Ekpe Udoh, also have NBA experience. Team Nigeria’s head coach is Mike Brown, who has held multiple head coaching positions in the NBA. The Nigerians dropped a remarkable 20 three-pointers to keep the pace fast.
This was a game of firsts for Team USA. It was the first game with Gregg Popovich at the helm since Mike Krzyzewski retired and it was the first Olympic game of any kind for nine of the 12 Team USA players.
Chicago Bulls Zach LaVine left the game early due to an ankle injury.
He returned and finished the game with 10 points, two rebounds, and one assist. On the defensive end, his on ball defense looked vastly improved. This was crucial down the stretch when Team USA was down. LaVine had a pretty solid international play debut. Bulls fans should be excited to see LaVine working well with star players such as Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard.