Nigeria, the sleeping power

The victory against the United States in Las Vegas brings Nigeria to the fore, a dominant power in the NBA and wants to do so in FIBA.


Nigeria is not a surprise, it is confirmation. The African team, the first on this continent to beat the United States in a basketball game, threatens to give a scare in the Olympic tournament that starts this month. In the friendly in Las Vegas against the almighty he has already won and convinced.

The Nigerian national team already enjoyed their ranks as NBA players. For example, born there as Josh Okogie (Timberwolves) or American childhood as Chimezie Metu (Kings) or Al-Farouq Aminu (Bulls). Also with ex of the League like Ben Uzoh, Ekpe Udoh, Michael Gbinije or Ike Iroegbu. What the country's federation wanted for the Tokyo 2020 event was to promote with some more quality piece with a Nigerian connection, either by family branch (Jahlil Okafor or Wes Iwundu) or by simple nationalization (Spencer Dinwiddie or Monte Morris) . 'Bam' Adebayo, a candidate for everything, dropped out of this race when he saw that he was going to join Popovich's team. In the end, Okafor and Morris joined, although in the case of the latter nothing is known and his name disappeared from the list despite being included in the shortlist, Gabe Vincent (Heat), Precious Achiuwa (Heat), KZ Okpala (Heat) and Miye Oni (Jazz). Three new talents leave Miami. Outside the arch has been, for example, OG Anunoby, British but of Nigerian descent. There is a choice for this country to dominate internationally, not just continental, for fifteen years.

Of the fifteen who went to Las Vegas must go to twelve, the summoned allowed by FIBA to participate in the Olympic Games.

Not everything is the US In the absence of a last cut in the list, in the game against Durant, Tatum and etcetera we saw acquaintances of the Spanish public: Obi Emegano, who has played this last year in the Endesa League with Urbas Fuenlabrada ; Stan Okoye, from Zaragoza to Gran Canaria; Caleb Agada, who in two years has gone from playing the LEB Oro with Melilla to trying to try out in the NBA summer league with the Nuggets.

The impact on the NBA

Obsidering the United States, the country that contributes the most players to the NBA, and its brothers in Canada, which increasingly enjoy better players but then do not apply that progression in international team competitions, there has always been a series of countries that have enjoyed representatives of great value and in good number in the most important basketball league in the world. It happens with France, which counts less and less due to the decolonization produced in recent decades, with Spain, which had ten at a time four years ago, with Germany, Greece, Turkey or Italy in the Old Continent, with China and Japan in Asia, with Australia of increasing order in recent times or with Argentina, which is the South American with the most packaging, although in the past decade it had much more.

In the case of Africa, the policies established by the NBA to attract hidden talent there, first with a Basketball Without Borders focused on their countries and then with the Basketball Africa League project, in which NBA and FIBA have joined forces to promote the basketball from there. Opportunities rarely happen and players can now make better use of them to get to the top. An example to focus on today is Nigeria.

Leaving aside other countries such as Congo, Senegal or Cameroon, which have important representation in the NBA, it is Nigeria that concentrates the greatest African talent of the present and future. To remember that for the appointment of the Olympic Games, for which he qualified two years ago, he has also signed a technician of the highest level like Mike Brown. He is the main assistant to Steve Kerr in the Warriors, a Kerr who is precisely the assistant to Gregg Popovich in the USA that he has done so much before going to Tokyo. In the coaching staff of the Nigerians there is also the Spanish Jordi Fernández, who coincided with his main in the Cavs.

Nigeria is not a secret for the NBA, since at the time it had two players drafted as number 1: Hakeem Olajuwon in 1984 and Michael Olowokandi in 1998, one with more success than the other.The player who represents the generational leap between that twentieth century prime minister and the current litter, the one that can fight for much higher heights both individually and nationally, is Ike Diogu. He was chosen by the Warriors in 2005, then withdrew from the NBA and now continues to play and as captain of the D'Tigers, the Nigerian national team. Speaking to The Associated Press, he explained this case: "I was born in the United States but grew up as a Nigerian: I lived with Nigerians, I went to a Nigerian church, to Nigerian parties ... I already saw this wave of Nigerian players coming in the NBA. , but I'm glad that now everyone can check it out ".

The new generation was reflected as relevant in the 2020 Draft, with eight chosen ones of Nigerian origin who ensure prosperity for the country's basketball: Isaac Okoro (5th, Cavaliers), Onyeka Okongwu (6th, Hawks), Precious Achiuwa (20th, Heat ), Zeke Nnaji (22nd, Nuggets), Udoka Azubuike (27th, Jazz), Desmond Bane (30th, Grizzlies), Daniel Oturu (33rd, Clippers) and a Jordan Nwora (45th, Bucks) who was already international for his country.

It is soon to speak of a world superpower at the basketball level, but it seems clear that Nigeria is in the first positions in terms of training capacity and export of talent to play with the orange ball.

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