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Nigeria’s D’Tigress were brilliant on Tuesday but inexperience did them in for Team USA to survive their early onslaught and go on to secure a nervous 81-72 win.

In this Women Basketball’s Preliminary Round Group B opening game at the Tokyo Olympic Games played at the Saitama Super Arena, Nigeria took the early initiative.

They stunned the six-time and reigning Olympic champions who boast a roster full of WNBA talent, including no fewer than 15 previous gold medallists.

In just their second Olympic appearance, the African champions took a 20-17 first-quarter lead thanks to the sharpshooting of Ify Ibekwe.

The U.S eventually found their rhythm through Sue Bird and a steady stream of points from Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and Olympic debutant A’ja Wilson.

They won the second quarter 27-12 and the third quarter 26-18.

But D’Tigress refused to lie down, and in a thrilling final quarter, they roared back to life with 22 points as against 11.

But they still fell nine points short of a relieved USA at the full-time buzzer.

History has it that beating the U.S in women’s Olympic basketball is a tall order, and this is in every sense of the word.

They have won every gold medal since Atlanta 1996, and are hoping to make it seven in a row at Tokyo 2020.

U.S’s next match is against hosts Japan, while Nigeria will look to bounce back against France, with both matches slated to take place on Friday

Vanguard News Nigeria

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