Nigeria’s basketball national team, D’Tigers, continued preparation for Tokyo 2020 with a resounding 94-71 thrashing of South American powerhouse and world number four on the FIBA ranking, Argentina, in their second exhibition match in Las Vegas.
The 23-point win over Argentina comes 48 hours after D’Tigers became the first ever African team to inflict defeat on the mighty United States, raining points from three-point range on their way to a 90-87 win also in Las Vegas.
Nigeria went with the same line-up that started in the win over the United States but began the game on a clumsy note as Argentina scored the first four points of the match before D’Tigers slowly worked their way back into the match.
The first quarter was keenly contested between both nations, with Nigeria’s shooting range from three-point country not on fire as it was against the Americans. However, D’Tigers started to show more aggression in the second quarter to open up a sizeable lead.
By the third quarter, Nigeria had outmuscled their opponents to open a 15-point lead thanks to scoring more points in the paint and out-rebounding their opponents within the second and third quarter before extending their lead in the fourth quarter to seal the big win.
Next up for Nigeria as preparation continues for the Olympic Games in Tokyo will be a match against Team Australia, who also overcame the United States 91-83 in another exhibition game, led by 22 points from Patty Mills.
Team USA overcame a slow start and actually held a nine-point lead at the end of the first half, powered by some efficient shooting from Damian Lillard who started the first quarter with four of five field goal attempts made and finished the game with 22 points.
But Australia rallied in the third and fourth quarter as Mills scored 10 of his 22 points in the final quarter to help the Aussies condemn the Americans to a second successive defeat – having only suffered two defeats in exhibition games since 1992 before falling to Nigeria.
Team USA must now regroup and aim to avoid a third straight loss – unheard of in basketball history – when they come up against Argentina in preparation for the Olympic Games where they hope to win a fifth successive gold medal.