The Nigerian national basketball team is currently the only African team to have qualified for the Olympics, and head coach Mike Brown hopes the addition of NBA veterans Monte Morris (Denver Nuggets) and OG Anunoby (Toronto Raptors) will help them out To make history.
Speaking to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated last week, Brown said the influx of NBA players of African descent helped level the playing field and give Nigeria a realistic chance of winning their first medal in the Olympics.
“There are more Nigerian players in the NBA than probably in any other country except the US… the talent is there. It’s all about organizing everyone and keeping everyone on the same page and getting everyone excited about playing and participating. And so there are about 10 or so people in the NBA who will come and try out for the team. So I’m looking forward to mixing some of that NBA talent with some very talented people who play professionally in Europe and abroad. “
According to Spears, striker Al-Farouq Aminu (Chicago Bulls), center Chimezie Metu (Sacramento Kings), guard Josh Okogie (Minnesota Timberwolves), center Jahlil Okafor (Detroit Pistons) and striker Wes Iwundu (New Orleans Pelicans) are expecting Morris and Anunoby. He adds that former NBA players Emeka Okafor, Festus Ezeli and Ben Uzoh could also join the roster.
According to Nigerian journalist Colin Udoh, guard Miye Oni and Center Udoka Azubuike of Utah Jazz; guard Gabe Vincent and concentration camp strikers Okpala and Precious Achiuwa of the Miami Heat; and Milwaukee Bucks striker Jordan Nwora will also join the list of 13 NBA players expected to make up the Nigerian national team.
As the FIBA AfroBasket tournament is fast approaching, Brown may have to field two national teams in order for Nigeria to take part in the Olympics and the AfroBasket, respectively.
If so, you can expect wing Aaron Nesmith (Boston Celtics), striker Zeke Nnaji (Denver Nuggets), guard Desmond Bane (Memphis Grizzlies) and guard Spencer Dinwiddie (Brooklyn Nets) also to make the national team be considered.
Morris, whose nationality change was officially announced in March, will join the team as a squad release and make his international debut with Nigeria.
In 47 games, the four-year-old professional averaged 10.2 points, 2.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game, while shooting 0.479 percent from the field and 0.393 percent from 3-point range.
Anunoby is a player Brown has had on his radar since he took office as Nigerian coach two years ago and seeing his name on the list has brought excitement and energy to the Nigerian basketball program.
In 43 games, Anunoby showed in a flash why the Raptors consider him one of the cornerstones of their franchise with an average of 15.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
Nigeria, which became the first African team to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo after the FIBA World Cup in 2019, will be in Group B alongside Australia and will win the Olympic qualifying tournaments in Serbia and Croatia from June 29 to July 4.
D’Tigers, who is also led by longtime team captain Ike Diogu, will face Team USA’s men’s basketball team at the Olympic Games on July 10th.
We’ll meet again @usabasketball!
10th of July
Nigeria vs. USA pic.twitter.com/yHzAB8Ev23
– D’Tigers | Nigeria Basketball (@NigeriaBasket) June 22, 2021