The U.S. improved to 2-0 Tuesday with a 110-63 rout of Tunisia, a team Nigeria beat by only four points in its opening game. The Americans led by just 13 points after a surprisingly close first half, then rang up 64 points in the second half to turn it into the easy victory that was expected.
“It’s not easy to us,” James said. “The final score may look that way, but we go out and we work hard, we work our habits and we try to get better, and I feel like we try to get better.
Team USA, who did not practice Wednesday, are approaching the Nigeria game as the next step in their quest for a second-straight gold medal.
The contest will possibly be the last lesser opponent for the U.S.
The schedule picks up again Saturday with a matchup against Lithuania before the final game of group play Monday against longtime rival Argentina.
Though Team USA on the court comes off intimidating to others, members of the Nigeria team remain unmoved.
“We will not be intimidated by those guys,” Ike Diogu, a former top-10 NBA draft pick who has played 225 NBA games, said after Nigeria’s 72-53 loss to Lithuania. “A lot of us went to school in the U.S. and have played against those guys. We have no reason to feel overwhelmed.”
Nigeria guard Tony Skinn agrees.
“I mean, listen, man, I’ve been playing ball for a long time,” said Skinn, who was part of George Mason’s improbable Final Four run in 2006. “At some point in time, I played against those guys or seen those guys play. A lot of us, obviously we’re Nigerians, but we play in the States and I don’t think we have that mentality to just come in the game and just, you know, get our (butts) whooped.”