D’Tigers point guard, Gabe Nnamdi Vincent, has revealed to Completesports.com in an exclusive interview, how the Nigeria’s national basketball team pulled an upset, beating world’s top ranked team, USA, in a pre-Tokyo 2020 Olympics exhibition match in Las Vegas on Saturday.
In one of the most stunning international upsets in basketball history, Nigeria’s D’Tigers led by Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown, defeated USA 90-87, their first ever loss to an African nation in their first exhibition game before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Nigeria made 20-of-42 3-pointers, repeatedly passing its way through Team USA rotations while racking up 21 assists. Gabe Nnamdi Vincent who plays for the Miami Heat made 6-of-8 3-pointers and finished with 21 points. Caleb Agada, who plays in the Israeli league and is soon to play summer league with the Denver Nuggets, scored 17 points off the bench.
Nnamdi was highly instrumental to the D’Tigers win, and in an exlusive interview with Completesports.com on Sunday evening, he revealed how it felt after the win against the United States and also how the team can still get better.
“I feel so good about the win. We knew we could compete with them, we knew we could play with them, much of the world were shocked, but I don’t think we were very shocked,” Nnamdi told Completesports.com.
“Even when we were back into the lockeroom, it seemed just like a normal game, and we played to our strikes, and eventually came out with the win.
“Obviously, USA have a great reputation, they’ve been a great team for years, and still remain a great team, but last night [Saturday], we got the the better of them and we’re happy about that. But our ultimate goal is to be on the podium in Tokyo, we have that in mind, so we’re trying not to get too high or get too low, but just continue to get better.”
Speaking on how the team can still improve in some areas, Nnamdi said;
“I think we can definitely get better, and that’s one thing after the game we knew. We knew we could have done way better ourselves, we still made some mistakes, and we knew, we were just happy to get the win. And it’s a lot easier to make corrections with a win, and going forward into the Olympics, we are set to get very much better everyday.”
When asked how effective Mike Brown has been to the D’Tigers team Nnamdi appraised his coach in glowing terms.
“Coach Mike Brown has been great so far, seeing how we’ve put in a lot of good things into our offense and defense, he has brought together a great staff of both coaches, training staff, doctors, and a whole lot of things he has brought on to make sure we’re in our best shape and best condition when we step into the court,” Nnamdi remarked.
“He has done a great job in bringing in organisation into what we do here, and we are looking forward to more successes”.
For a young player like Gabe Nnamdi Vincent, who’s trying to make a very big name for himself in the NBA, atimes there could exist extra pressure from the bad and good sides of his game. He also responded to question on how he copes with the pressure that accompany both the good and bad sides of the game.
He said: “I’ll try not so say there’s pressure, it always come with the game, everyone always have a opinion, both good and bad, the pressure on the court, but in all of these, I just try to rely on the work that I’ve put in before those times.”
“I just try to rely on my reputation, my practice, and I put my faith in that and move forward to keep doing the best for myself.“
On June 22 2020, the NBA G league announced Gabe Nnamdi Vincent as the most improved player with just six months with the Heat. It would have given him a surreal feeling, and when asked if it made him believe he was ready for the NBA, he was positive.
Also Read: D’Tigers Stun USA In Pre-Olympics Friendly
“ You know, I didn’t get that award until after my call-up. I was in Miami actually when I got that award. That was in preseason, going into the year. To be the most improved, that award was most important to me and to my development,” he said.
“I wasn’t paying attention to who was getting what award or not, I was just focused on getting better when that award came along the way.”
Miami Heat reached the 2020 NBA finals and lost in 6 games to the Los Angeles Lakers, Nnamdi expressed how the loss was for him and the rest of the team and the atmosphere in the Locker room.
“I think I took it personally, we all took it personally. To be so close to accomplishing a very difficult goal, and then losing was painful, although I didn’t play in that series, I took it hard as everyone else did,” Nnamdi stated.
Nnamdi had a strong word for the lovers and supporters of Basketball in Nigeria, giving assurance on the D’Tigers making it happen in Tokyo.
He added: “My word to Nigerians is that we appreciate all the support, and we’re going to do everything we can to represent the nation Nigeria to the best of our ability.
“We’re going to play to bring home a medal, and we’re going to do everything we can to do so.”
By Timothy Dehinbo
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