Preview >> USA Men To Face Challenge From Nigeria
Playing in its first Olympic game ever, Nigeria never trailed in defeating Tunisia in its opening game of preliminary play. Nigeria jumped to a 29-10 lead with 3:42 left in the second quarter, and maintained a 14-point lead at 45-31 to start the fourth quarter. Tunisia rallied back to close the deficit to two points at 49-47 with 5:14 to play, and would get within two points twice in the final minute before Nigeria pulled out the 60-56 win. Alade Aminu led Nigeria with 15 points.
In its second game, Nigeria fell to Lithuania 72-53. Nigeria only trailed 34-27 at halftime, but Lithuania outscored them 38-26 in the second half to pull away for the victory. Ike Diogu and Al-Farouq Aminu tied for the team lead with 12 points apiece..
Get prepared for today's game with our preview.
Chris Collins (U.S. workout coach/scout & Duke University assistant coach)
What are your expectations for the game with Nigeria?
They’re a very athletic team. They’re big. They’re long. They’ve gotten a lot of advantages on the boards. That’s going to be a concern for us in this game. They haven’t been a great shooting team but they are one of the teams that just get it up on the boards and go get it. Obviously, Al-Farouq Aminu, Ike Diogu are two guys are either playing the NBA or past NBA players … very talented … they had to earn their way here with wins in Venezuela. They beat Lithuania over there. They beat Dominican Republic when they had to. They’re going to come in with no pressure and play loose and free and we’re going to have to play very hard and especially rebound the basketball.
What are the keys to the game for the USA?
We have to get off to a good start. We allowed Tunisia (Tuesday) to get into a rhythm early and make some shots and get comfortable. I think our defensive intensity at the start of the game, to set the tone. Hopefully we can get out in transition and get some easy baskets and kind of impose our will from the start. This is probably the most athletic team we’ve played so far with France and Tunisia. I think we need to do a very good job of matching their intensity out there.
What are the keys to the USA-Nigeria game and what have been your general impressions of the Nigerian team?
Nigeria is very athletic and they have a lot of American players. In Al-Farouq Aminu they have a player that can get a double-double who is a NBA player; and his brother (Alade) is also really good inside and played at Georgia Tech.
For us it's a matter of just continuing our preparation; making sure that we don't take anything for grant and we come out and play hard and try to get minutes for everybody so we're developing everybody as we go into the latter stages of pool play.