Nigeria’s men basketball team D’Tigers has lost its opening game at the Tokyo Olympics after falling to a 84-67 lose to Australia at the Saitama Arena, also, tournament favourites, U.S. men's basketball, who is gunning for a fourth consecutive gold medal has lost in the Olympics for the first time since 2004.
D'Tigers and the Americans clashed earlier in a warm-up game where the Nigeria men basketball team came out on top, but however, couldn't put in a show when they faced Australia in the tournament proper. Meanwhile, the USA team had looked rusty in the build-up to Tokyo and there are fears the team may underachieve in this year's Olympics.
The Nigerians, led by Miami Heat point guard Gabe Vincent, were impressive in the first quarter, matching the Boomers for strength as they tied the game 23-23 at the end of the quarter. The Aussies led by three points going into halftime 43-40 after winning the second quarter 20-17.
D’Tigers kept the margin minimal at the end of the third quarter with a six-point deficit: 58-52 in favour of the Bommers, but collapsed in the fourth quarter. Obi Emegano scored nine of his team-high 12 points in the first half. NBA winner Jordan Nwora had 10 points from the bench, while Josh Okogie contributed nine points.
The USA team that had won 25 consecutive Olympic games, lost to a team that knocked them out of the Basketball World Cup two years ago. The French, with a team consisting of NBA players including Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier, inflicted the Americans’ first defeat at an Olympics since the 2004 Athens Games where they won a bronze medal.
Fournier had 28 points for France, while Rudy Gobert scored 14 and Nando de Colo had 13. Jrue Holiday had 18 points for the U.S., Bam Adebayo had 12, Damian Lillard 11 and Kevin Durant had 10 for the Americans
The French came from behind to take control of the game in the final quarter as the USA failed to find any rhythm. Fournier’s three-pointer with 57 seconds remaining put his team ahead 76-74 and when Durant hit the rim with a three-pointer himself the French closed out the game with a succession of free throws.
Both D’Tigers and the USA now need to bounce back from the disappointment of their opening loss when they face Germany and Iran respectively in their second group game on Wednesday.