Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Video - Team USA beats Team Nigeria 110-66 in exhibition before Rio Olympics

The U.S. men's national basketball team finished off its pre-Olympics showcase with a 110-66 win over Nigeria on Monday night. The Americans had no trouble sweeping through their four-game exhibition schedule and enter Rio looking like the heavy favorites to take the gold.

The game at Toyota Center started out close but quickly turned into a blowout. Team USA went on a 30-6 run in the first half to blow things wide open then steadily built on its lead with good defense and shooting.

Even though the U.S. wasn't playing its best, its talent advantage is almost always present. The team's ability to spread size and length across all five positions makes mismatches a near constant. A shorter three-point line compared to the NBA means elite shooters like Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson can start gunning from even closer than usual. Nobody has figured out how to score regularly on these guys, either.

Nigeria was able to get some penetration at times but found itself stuck from there. DeAndre Jordan, Durant and the other rim protectors were always ready to make things difficult. Nigeria doesn't have the three-point shooting to drive, kick it out and regularly make defenses pay, especially given the length that the U.S. has in closing out. Nigeria shot 4-of-29 from three in this game (including 0-of-23 to start), which was the biggest reason they fell behind so quickly. You can't shoot 14 percent from three against anyone, but especially not against Team USA.

The Americans shot 54 percent from the floor, including 13-of-33 from three. Carmelo Anthony led the team with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Klay Thompson wasn't far behind with 17 points, while Durant scored 14. Kyle Lowry almost had a triple-double with 11 assists, eight points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes.

For Nigeria, the leading scorer was Chamberlain Oguchi, who scored 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting. Oguchi hit all four of Nigeria's three-pointers. Alade Aminu, the brother of Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu, added 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting. The other Aminu is no longer participating with the national team this year, reportedly due to complications over insuring his NBA contract. Former NBA players Ike Diogu and Ben Uzoh added 10 points apiece.

It was another strong defensive effort for Team USA, which will enter Rio looking very strong on that end of the floor. The team's shooting came and went during the showcase, but defense ensured that the final results were never all that close. Coach K's team allowed just 56.3 points per game during the four exhibitions.

The competition will be much tougher in Rio, where the stakes are higher and the talent is more plentiful, but the past few games have made it clear the U.S. is yet again the team to beat. They're going to be brutally tough on defense and spread the floor with shooting galore. As we saw again against Nigeria, most teams won't really be able to match up against that.

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