The U.S. women's basketball team will begin its journey to another gold medal in the early hours Tuesday morning against Nigeria in Tokyo. It will be a rematch from just a week ago, when these two teams faced off in an exhibition match ahead of the Olympics in Las Vegas. During that game, Team USA routed the Nigerians 93-62 behind strong performances from A'ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart. The United States will try to replicate that success and knock off any residual rust against a Nigeria team that will be trying to pull off an upset against the heavily favored Americans.
Ahead of the matchup, here's everything you need to know for when Team USA takes on Nigeria.
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United States vs. Nigeria
- Date: Tuesday, July 27 | Time: 12:40 a.m. ET
- Location: Saitama Super Arena -- Saitama, Japan
- TV: USA | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
- Odds (via William Hill Sportsbook): USA -10000; Nigeria +2000 | Spread: 29.5 | O/U: 153.5
United States: Team USA is coming into the Olympics with two losses in exhibition games. One came against the WNBA All-Stars, which isn't all that surprising considering they were facing the likes of Arike Ogunbowale (26 points), Jonquel Jones and Courtney Williams, who all exploded against Team USA. The other, a far more shocking loss, came against the Australian national team that was without Liz Cambage in Vegas when the two played against each other. While both games were exhibition matchups, it's still a bit head-turning for a team that holds a 49-game win streak in Olympic games. Perhaps it will serve as motivation for Team USA, and it won't impact the Americans when they tip off against Nigeria.
That aside, one major storyline to watch is the health of Diana Taurasi. The WNBA legend didn't play in any of Team USA's exhibition games, and up until recently it was unclear if she was going to play against Nigeria. The Phoenix Mercury guard hasn't played since July 3, and has been dealing with hip and sternum injuries that have limited her to just seven games for Phoenix. Taurasi said she'll be available against Nigeria and will "grind through the pain" to play. As encouraging as that is, the three-time WNBA champion may not be at 100 percent, which will be something to watch against Nigeria.
Nigeria: The Nigerian national team will be without Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike in the Olympics, after the former was denied her petition to be able to play for the country where she has citizenship. FIBA denied Nneka due to her long history playing with Team USA, but the sisters have dual citizenship in both the U.S. and Nigeria. However, the youngest of the Ogwumike family, Erica, who plays for the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA, will be suiting up for Nigeria against Team USA. In the exhibition game last week between these two teams, Erica put up five points in 10 minutes of action, while Atlanta Dream forward Elizabeth Williams led the team with nine points. However, Williams will also not be playing for Nigeria against the U.S. after her appeal was also denied by FIBA to play in the Olympics.
If Team USA is on its A-game, this one shouldn't be close. The depth the Americans have is unmatched by any team in the tournament, and it's not surprising in the slightest that this team is heavily favored not just in this matchup, but to also win its seventh straight gold medal. Pick: United States