With an eye on a podium performance at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which begins next month, the men’s senior national basketball team, D’Tigers, have invited 49 players to begin final preparations for the global fiesta.
The camp will be based in California, U.S, with Head Coach, Mike Brown, looking out for the best possible players that can take Nigeria to the medal table in Japan.
The team is dominated by players from United States’ NBA, including Monte Morris of Denver Nuggets, Miye Oni (Utah Jazz), OG Anunoby (Toronto Raptors), Kz Okpala (Miami Heat), Festus Ezeli, Precious Achiuwa (Miami Heat), Udoka Azubuike (Utah Jazz), and Jahlil Okafor (Detroit Pistons). These stars are all set to make their international debuts for Nigeria.
According to Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), Josh Okogie (Minnesota Timberwolves) will join other NBA players, who include Gabe Vincent (Miami Heat), Al-farouq Aminu (Chicago Bulls), Jordan Nwora (Milwaukee Bucks) and Chimezie Metu (Sacramento Kings), who are returning to the team after their 2019 FIBA World Cup exploit which saw Nigeria becoming the first African team to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics alongside Ike Diogu (Bameso, Dominican Republic).
“The European legion comprises Obi Emegano (Fuenlabrada, Spain), Ike Iroegbu (Elan Chalon, France), Michael Oguine (BC Souffelweyersheim, France), Zaid Hearst (Alba Fehervar, Hungary), Ike Nwamu (Samara, Russia) and Michael Gbinije (BC Nevèżíe, Lithuania).
Other European stars in the squad are Talib Zanna (Hapoel Tel-Aviv, Israel), Emmanuel Omogbo (Vellaznimi, Kosovo), Christian Mekowulu (Treviso, Italy), Tonye Jekiri (Baskonia, Spain), Abdul-Malik Abu (Fethiye, Turkey), Chima Moneke (Orleans, France), Amanze Egekeze (Gries/Oberhoffen, France), Calab Agada (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel), TK Edogi (St. Chamond, France), Joshua Ajayi (Hermine Nantes, France), Keith Omoerah (Poitiers, France) and Michael Eric, who recently helped CSKA Moscow of Russia to the European Basketball League,” the NBBF said.
NBA champion, Festus Ezeli, UC Iroegbu, Ike Ndugba (2021 NBA draft prospect), Mike Okauru (UNC- Wilmington), Ben Uzoh (Rivers Hoopers), Michael Adewunmi (UT-Rio Grand Valley), Aminu Mohammed (Georgetown University), Manny Obaseki (Texas A&M University), Elijah Olaniyi (Stony Brook University) and Chibuzo Agbo (Texas Tech University) are also in the list.
Gideon George (Brigham Young University), Makenzie Mgbako (Gill St. Bernard School), Warith Alatishe (Oregon State University), Efe Abogidi (Washington State University), Stephen Domingo (Lakeland Magic), Emeka Okafor, Clifford Omoruyi (Rutger University) and Ekpe Udoh (Beijing RF, China) complete the 49-man list.
The NBBF said the players started arriving in the camp on June 20 for the first phase of the exercise. Nigeria is in Group B alongside Australia and winners of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Serbia and Croatia, which will hold from June 29 to July 4, 2021.