Are Nigeria’s D’Tigers d’sleepers in this year’s Olympics?

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Chimezie Metu of Nigeria dunks in an exhibition against Argentina.

Chimezie Metu of Nigeria dunks in an exhibition towards Argentina.
Picture: Getty Photos

Nigeria, presently No. 22 on the earth, is the third-lowest ranked males’s basketball membership to have certified for the Olympics, which can start on July 23.

And, in back-to-back exhibition video games, all they’ve carried out is surprised the No. 1- and No. 4-ranked groups on the earth. NBD.

Nigeria’s D’Tigers got here into Saturday’s sport with Workforce USA as a close to 30-point underdog and received 90-87 in dramatic and stunning vogue. This is identical program that Workforce USA defeated 156-73, setting an Olympic scoring file, 9 years in the past. Workforce USA additionally routed Nigeria 110-66 in a scrimmage 5 years in the past. However this previous weekend, led by a trio of younger Miami Warmth items Gabe Nnamdi Vincent, Kezie Okpala, and Valuable Achiuwa — together with Detroit Pistons middle Jahlil Okafor and Minnesota Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie — Nigeria defeated Workforce USA for the primary time ever. Then, on Monday, they blew out Argentina — one other world energy in males’s basketball, who completed second within the FIBA World Cup of 2019 — by 23 factors, 94-71.

It hasn’t been perfect for Workforce USA, certain, as a result of they misplaced to Australia final evening, dropping their third and fourth scrimmages since 1992. However not sufficient has been manufactured from Nigeria’s thumping of Argentina (who performs Workforce USA tonight). Okafor led Nigeria with 15 factors within the effort. Okogie and Sacramento Kings F/C Chimezie Metu added 10 factors every. Nigeria outshot Argentina 48 p.c to 36 p.c over the course of the sport, and led by double-digits for practically your complete second half.

Stephen A. Smith’s had a foul week already, however his dismissive feedback towards Nigeria did provoke responses from the membership, the group’s official Twitter, and the aforementioned Okogie, specifically:

Positive, these are solely scrimmages, however Nigeria’s clearly demonstrated a capability to match up properly with a few of the different high golf equipment to date. Are we anticipating them to outlast groups of this identical caliber when the Olympics formally start? Effectively, fortunately, that’ll be rapidly addressed. Nigeria’s first sport in Olympic play can be towards world No. 3 Australia on July 25 as a part of Group B, which additionally contains Germany and Italy, who shocked Serbia in Belgrade-based Olympic qualifiers earlier this month.

Nigeria has certified for his or her third straight Olympics, and their greatest exhibiting got here in 2012 the place they completed tenth — however none of their golf equipment in historical past have carried out something of this magnitude main as much as them. And that’s the rationale it’s time to formally embody them on a “ones to observe” record to your Olympic viewing pleasure.

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