When Damian Lillard agreed to join Team USA in Tokyo this summer, he said the bitter taste in his mouth from his first-round exit played into the decision.
"It gave me that itch to jump back in and play and have that chance to win," he said.
Well, he may have to wait a little longer despite playing on the most talented basketball team in the world as Nigeria shocked Team USA Saturday, 90-87, to open exhibition play ahead of the Olympics. It's the first time an African nation has ever defeated the Americans in men's basketball.
This is the first time Team USA has lost in an Olympic year since embarassingly not getting the gold medal in 2004.
Nigeria outrebounded Team USA 46-34 and made 20 three-pointers during the contest, including six from the Miami Heat's Gabe Vincent en route to 21 points.
The loss comes nine years after a 156-73 American blowout to Nigeria at the London Olympics, the largest margin of victory in program history.
The 2021 Nigerian team includes six NBA players: Vincent (Miami), Precious Achiuwa (Miami), KZ Okpala (Miami), Chimezie Metu (Sacramento), Josh Okogie (Minnesota) and Miye Oni (Utah). Mike Brown, assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, leads the tream from the sidelines, too.
For the game, Lillard finished the night with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists during his first international start. He started along with Bradley Beal, Jayson Tatum, Kevin Duarnt and Bam Adebayo for Team USA.
Duanrt led the Americans with 17 points on 4-13 from the floor. He scored seven points himself to cut an eight-point deficit to just one, but it was not enough.
Team USA can get back in the winner's column on Monday against Australia.