LONDON — Moments after a 47-point beating of Tunisia Tuesday night, Tyson Chandler was asked if he had seen anyone on the opposing team capable of joining him one day in the NBA.
Ever the diplomat, Chandler didn’t take that bait.
“Well, I honestly wasn’t focused on that,” he said. “My focus was on winning the game and that’s really all I was thinking about.”
That’s fair. Tunisia is the only team in the Olympic field that doesn’t boast at least one player with NBA experience. Nigeria, the team that the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team tussles with later today (5:15 p.m. ET) will provide a different test than that young Tunisia team did.
Nigeria has several American-born players with NBA ties on their roster, including Hornets swingman Al-Farouq Aminu, the No. 8 pick in the 2010 Draft, and former NBA players Ike Diogu and Olumide Oyedeji. Aminu’s older brothe, Alade, is a former Georgia Tech star.
Nigeria might be the most surprising team here, considering the road it had to travel to get to the Olympics.
The Nigerians pulled off a couple of stunners in the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament, including upset wins over Lithuania and Greece, as well as a 25-point, 10-rebound performance by Diogu in a win over Hawks All-Star center Al Horford and the Dominican Republic that clinched Nigeria’s first ticket to the Olympics.
The Nigerians didn’t waste any time making themselves comfortable, knocking off African champion Tunisia in their opener before coming back to earth Tuesday in an ugly 72-53 loss to Lithuania.