Tokyo Olympics 2020: US men's, women's basketball team post wins over Spain, Nigeria in exhibitions

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Las Vegas: Two days after being added to the Olympic team, Keldon Johnson keyed a huge third-quarter run to help the US beat Spain.

Damian Lillard scored 19 points and Johnson added 15 in an 83-76 victory Sunday night in the final pre-Olympic game for both teams before they head to Tokyo.

Johnson had been one of the young players training against the Americans, and had appeared in two exhibition games. The San Antonio forward/guard was added to the Olympic squad Friday after Bradley Beal tested positive for the coronavirus and Kevin Love withdrew because of a calf injury. The US also added JaVale McGee, who didn't play.

"Keldon Johnson played a really solid basketball game. made cuts to the bucket," US coach Gregg Popovich said. "When he did go to the bucket he was very physical. Very solid in half-court defense. He had a very, very good night."

This was the US team's fourth exhibition in eight days in Las Vegas. The Americans were supposed to have a fifth against Australia on Friday, but that was cancelled out of caution because of the coronavirus issues the Americans were dealing with.

The two top-ranked team in the world struggled early on with Spain missing its first six shots before finally getting a basket 4:35 into the game.

Despite the slow start the Spaniards led 18-14 after one. They extended the lead to 38-36 at the half. Lillard and Durant each had 11 points at the half. The two combined to go 7 for 16 from the field while the rest of the US squad was 5 of 19. Ricky Rubio had 14 points at the half for Spain.

"The defense was pretty solid. we couldn't make a shot, but they didn't let up defensively," Popovich said. "Kept their focus in that regard which will be important."

Trailing 46-42 in the third quarter, the US finally got going. The Americans scored the first 11 points during a 23-6 run that spanned the final two quarters. Johnson had eight points during the game-changing spurt. His dunk midway through the burst brought the crowd to life.

"I'm out here to be that energy guy, bring life to the team whenever you need it," Johnson said. "The third quarter we needed a spark. not saying because I got a couple of buckets. On the defense end, trying to bring some kind of energy or spark so we can get over the hump."

Spain only had one field goal in the final 5:44 of the quarter and was down 57-50 heading into the fourth quarter.

The US kept the burst going to start the fourth and led 65-52 on Jayson Tatum's reverse layup with 7:30 left. Spain could get no closer than eight the rest of the way.

Rubio finished with 23 points,

While the US had struggled at times in Las Vegas, Rubio, who has played internationally for years, thinks they'll figure it out.

"It's the first time they are playing together, it takes time," he said. "They are dangerous if they play as a team."

US women earn first exhibition win, routing Nigeria 93-62

The US women's Olympic team was in unfamiliar territory having dropped two exhibition games in a row for the first time in a decade.

The Americans rebounded with a strong effort to beat Nigeria 93-62 on Sunday in the final pre-Olympic exhibition tune-up for both teams.

"It feels good," US coach Dawn Staley said. "To come out and play the way we did on both sides of the basketball. We shared it, got our bigs the ball. We made a concerted effort to do that. "I think everyone in the locker room feels good about being able to impact the game in a lot of different ways."

A'ja Wilson scored 16 points and Breanna Stewart added 14 to lead the US, which dropped consecutive exhibition games for the first time since 2011 with losses to the WNBA All-Stars and Australia this week.

"No one wants to be on the team that loses," Wilson said. "I was a little like uh-oh. People talk and jump the gun say everything and anything. the vets were like it's ok, it's part of the game, we'll get back. Coach came in today and said we're getting back to our dominance and that helped me feel a little more at ease. The people we have in the locker room are so talented we know what we were doing."

The Americans got off to a strong start, racing out to a 20-4 lead. After shooting 2 for 18 from behind the 3-point arc in the loss to Australia, the US pounded the ball inside early and often against Nigeria. The first 10 points came from Wilson and Brittney Griner.

The US led 29-15 after one quarter as Stewart had 10 points. Griner took over in the second quarter to help the Americans extend the lead to 55-34 at the half. Nigeria never made a run in the second half against the US, which was missing Diana Taurasi for the third straight exhibition game as she recovers from a hip injury.

She said Saturday that she'd be ready for the Olympics.

Nigeria's roster is still undetermined for the Olympics that begin next week. The African nation was trying to get Nneka Ogwumike and Elizabeth Williams to play for them. The two have filed appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in a last-ditch effort said two people familiar with the situation.

The pair were notified earlier this week by FIBA that their petition to play for the African nation had been denied because they played for the US national program for too long. The people spoke to The Associated Press Friday on condition of anonymity because no official announcement had been made.

The two WNBA players would need to have FIBA's decision overturned by Sunday night's registration deadline for the Olympics or have the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) grant them a provisional allowance and add them to the roster until a hearing can occur.

Nigeria coach Otis Hughley Jr. wasn't sure when and how the CAS would decide.

"I wish I could answer those questions. I don't know the answers to those questions,' he said. "I'm locked into the girls we have who are eligible. I hope and pray that changes. ... it would be a welcome edition."

Hughley was disappointed that FIBA wouldn't let the Nneka Ogwumike and Williams play.

"It's unfortunate it's coming out the way it is," he said. "The parents and grandparents are both born there. Why would you not certify them? ... Every country on this earth there's an African on them. Why wouldn't you let these children return to their own roots.

Williams did play for Nigeria in the exhibition game while Ogwumike and her sister, Chiney, who was approved to play as a naturalized player for Nigeria were on the bench, but not suited up.

Nneka Ogwumike didn't make the US Olympic roster which is what set off the chain of events that led to her trying to play for Nigeria where her parents are from and she and her sisters hold dual citizenship.

Erica Ogwumike, the youngest of the four Ogwumike sisters, had five points for Nigeria. Atonye Nyingifa scored nine points to lead the team.

Nigeria has been a team on the rise, reaching the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 2018. before losing to the US.

Also See: Tokyo Olympics 2020: USA men's basketball team bounces back, tops Argentina 108-80 in pre-Games tune-up

Tokyo Olympics 2020: US basketball team member Bradley Beal out of Games for health and safety reasons

Tokyo Olympics 2020: JaVale McGee, Keldon Johnson replace Kevin Love, Bradley Beal in US basketball roster

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