The United States didn’t lose to Nigeria 76-71 on Sunday in Belgrade, Serbia. Yes, the Americans technically won, but this was a very poor way to finish the qualifiers. So to be honest, I feel like the Americans lost, given the talent they have.
Ariel Atkins got the start and scored 3 points in the game. But the USA had a tough start overall and allowed Nigeria to outrebound them 25-15. Needless to say, they were losing, 40-26 at the half and were behind until the fourth quarter.
Let’s give Nigeria credit for their strong performance. They were already playing with nothing to lose, considering that they clinched an Olympic berth before the game began. Ezinne Kali led the Nigerians with 17 points.
Unlike Belgium, there is no big celebration needed for Team USA’s wins. They already made the Olympics in 2018 during the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup.
Despite the poor finish to an otherwise successful qualifiers run, I’m happy to see Atkins play off the bench for the Americans, who can definitely use a rising off-ball player and defender like her.
Here’s to hoping that she will make the final roster this summer!