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Popovich on Loss to Nigeria, ‘Means Nothing If We Don’t Learn From It’

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Team USA Head Coach Gregg Popovich plans to use Saturday’s loss to Nigeria as pre-Olympics motivation.

2021 USA Basketball Training Camp: All-Access Photo by Madison Quisenberry/NBAE via Getty Images

Team USA’s shocking exhibition loss to Nigeria on Saturday caught the basketball world’s attention. Since the Dream Team first took the floor, Team USA has suffered just three exhibition losses. In the aftermath of the defeat, coach Gregg Popovich explained that the result against Nigeria must serve as a learning experience.

Washington Post NBA writer Ben Golliver highlighted Popovich’s comments.

“In a way, I’m kind of glad it happened,” Team USA Coach Gregg Popovich said. “That means nothing if we don’t learn from it. It could be the most important thing in this tournament for us. ... Everybody expects us to win every game. That puts some pressure on you. For a new group, in tough circumstances, I thought they did a good job of not getting down, not blaming anybody and just playing. That will go a long way.”

In the loss, Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard logged 14 points in 27 minutes of action. Nigeria’s Gabe Vincent led all scorers with 21 points. As a team, Nigeria connected on more three-pointers and won the rebounding battle.