USA topples Nigeria in final pre-Olympic basketball friendly
The USA, gunning for their third straight Olympic basketball gold medal, wrapped up their pre-Summer Games exhibition series with a dominating 110-66 win over world number 25 Nigeria on Monday night.
The Americans’ buildup to the Rio de Janeiro Games included five straight exhibition wins, but just one came against an opponent ranked in the top 10 in the world. They easily beat No. 4 Argentina, No. 14 China twice and rolled over No. 22 Venezuela by 35 points.
“We played good defense and it led to some fast breaks,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Our team is very deep. The most versatile team we have had.”
Despite the absence of NBA stars LeBron James and Stephen Curry, Krzyzewski’s squad is favored to win a third consecutive gold.
A half-dozen Americans finished in double figures Monday, including Carmelo Anthony, who tallied a team high 19 points.
Klay Thompson (17), Kevin Durant (14), DeMar DeRozan (13), DeMarcus Cousins (10) and DeAndre Jordan (10) also finished in double figures. Kyle Lowry had 11 assists and Jordan grabbed nine rebounds in the victory at the Toyota Center arena in Houston, Texas.
“It was good way to close it out. Now the big show starts and we got to lock in,” Anthony said.
He also complained Monday about the basketball they are going to using during the Rio Games, saying he prefers the heavier NBA ball.
“It is lighter and more slippery,” Anthony said. “When it gets wet it is harder to control. That’s a ball you really have to get used to.”
Point guard Kyrie Irving (bruised left thigh) and Paul George (left calf) sat out with injuries on Monday. Irving injured his thigh when he collided with a Venezuela player during Friday’s contest in Chicago.
Venezuela is in the first-round group with the USA, China, Australia, France and Serbia.
The Americans play the Chinese again to open the Rio Olympics on August 6 and also meet Venezuela again.
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