It is old news that Africa resources is being used worldwide, in "developed" countries, while the source is still "developing". This does not only go for mineral resources, but manpower. Now, this is not a complaint, but we have a long way to go to build our homelands.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand; Nigerian basketball players are proving themselves to be elite players in foreign land, - giving them honours to say the least - for the opportunities provided. I mean, who wants to miss such a chance? Each one of them has worked themselves off and broken limits to be amongst the 12 to represent a whole nation.
1. Nneka Ogwumike (USA)
Starting with the most popular, Nneka Ogwumike is not new to the scene and has been very popular and active in the basketball realm. She and her younger sister Chineye Ogwumike went on to be the first WNBA players, as siblings, to feature at the All Stars games. Nneka has won both rookie and MVP in the WNBA. In no surprise she got the MVP title at the recently concluded FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifiers (FIBAOQT), Serbia. Nneka topped the tournament, at Field Goal Shooting (68%).
2. Natalie Achonwa (Canada)
Nat is a high and low end defensive player, who averaged 13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists. She tops team Canada in Efficiency (18.0) and rebounds, with second in scoring. Her worst game, during FIBAOQT, Belgium was the first against the host. Achonwa played 18 minutes, but came up with only six points. After that; she geared up with her game face, against Sweden and Japan; scoring 16 and 18 points respectively. She is not new to the Olympics haven attended twice. Tokyo may be her last.
3. Temi Fagbenle (England)
Temitope is one of the athletes who is deep rooted with her roots and flaunts it occasionally. As the top player representing Great Britain, she averaged 25 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.3 steals. Despite her high performance, it was not enough for her to get another shot at the Olympics. China, Korea and Spain displayed more dominance in the group of death. A player, and an artist, we hope to see more of Temitope's exploits on and off the court.
4. Liz Cambage (Australia)
Tall (6'8 ft) and energetic Elizabeth Cambage drew serious attention with her personality and prowess on and off the court. She led team Australia literarily with triple doubles at the end of the FIBAOQT, France, to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics proper. Not just the team, but the whole tournament! Elizabeth topped in; Points per Game (26.3), Total Points (79), Free Throws (89.7%), Rebounds per Game (11.0), Total Rebounds (33), Blocks per Game (2.3) and Efficiency (28.7). Despite her performance, she did not get the MVP title in France and the much contested MVP title by fans at 2018 Women's World Cup, which was given to Breanna Stewart from USA.
5. Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe(Canada)
Light on her feet and clear floor vision, the high spirited Nayo, is a supportive athlete, feeding off on defensive rebounds and assists. She also features for the Canadian 3x3 team; a specialist on that end. Nayo, at the end of the tournament, averaged 6 points 5 rebounds and 2 assists. She also played a vital role in the downfall of Nigeria, during the 2018 World Cup (Canada 73-72 Nigeria), as she picked up vital defensive rebounds, scored 10 points, and was the most efficient player on the Canadian team.
6. Ezi Magbegor (Australia)
Teammate to Liz Cambage and plays the Forward position, plus a decent height of 6'4, Ezi manages to average seven points per game, with 4.3 rebounds, and 1 assist. Owning to lesser play time against France (two minutes), scoring nothing, her average points was significantly affected, for with 19 minutes of play against Puerto Rico, she made 15 points. At age 20, her steady improvement in her position looks steady.
7. Miranda Ayim (Canada)
Another veteran on the Canadian team, who has attended two Olympics, going for the third. You would majorly see Natalie Achonwa feeding her with the assists. They both tend to share emotional moments together, like sisters who look after each other in times of need. Ayim has mastered the art of the baseline-reverse layup. At 6'3, she is a very competitive, who loves to rebound, plays defense and yes, watch out for those blocks!
8. Kristine Anigwe (England)
At 6'4, Anigwe debuted the British team, and for some unknown reason was benched by the coach Chema Buceta for two of their three games. She was allowed to play the second game against Korea, for 11 minutes and she scored three points, grabbed four rebounds and one steal.
9. Laeticia Amihere (Canada)
Currently 18 years of age, Amihere is a rookie on senior team Canada, who plays forward averaged four points, 2.5 rebounds, and 0.5 assists; a good start as she graduated from the junior to senior team. She a graduate, from the University of South Carolina.
10. Monica Okoye (Japan)
Even though she did not feature at the just concluded #FIBAOQT, we could not help but notice her first appearance with Japan at the 2018 Women's World Cup. Then she averaged 8.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.5 steals. Her brother, Louis Okoye plays baseball professionally. We hope to see her more in action soon.
That is all for now, and this so proves that we have the talent, resource and more to be successful.
By the way, this may not be all the Nigerian players out there that we noticed. We believe that there are more, especially those have non indigenous names.
Tokyo Olympic Qualifiers, Serbia - D'Tigress: Senior Women Nigeria National team did it again, defeating Mozambique emphatically, 85-51.
To what seemed slow, but surely team Nigeria under the leadership of Otis Hughley broke down the defense of Mozambique, while theirs appeared to be impenetrable.
Team Captain, #11 Adaora Elonu kept moving in stealth for those steals, buckets and block to the unsuspecting opponent.
Elonu had 10 points, 1 rebound, 4 assists, 3 steals and 1 block
#10 Promise Amukamara rattled the opponents defense with her coordinated handles and shots, while #23 Ezinne Kalu charged her way through exhibiting similar damage.
Amukamara got 14 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 steals, while Kalu hit 11 points, 1 rebound, 5 assists and 1 steal.
All three players made the double digit mark, but what was more important; all players put their names on the score sheet.
The collective work of the players, hard work and a little luck has brought them this far, and it does not look like it is going to stop anytime soon.
Rookie player Elizabeth Bunmi Balogun caught the attention of the fans, with her scoring ability; creating openings for herself and feeding off team assists.
She made 9 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals with 16 minutes.
As Nigeria got this win, all indications points to an automatic qualification for the Tokyo Olympics. Notwithstanding, they need to keep winning.
Next match-up would be against home team Serbia; same time 17:00 (Nigerian)
Coming home after a while, Chinenye Ogwumike nicknamed “Chiney” paid visit to her mother’s Alma Mata; Queens College, Yaba Lagos; and prior to that Avi-Cenna International school, in a giveback quest.
The WNBA star, and sports Analyst on ESPN showed excitement, seeing the smiles on the young faces, while she interacted with them, signing autographs and sharing her experiences.
Moreso, she met with some of the players from the Nigerian league at Teslim Balogun stadium in a meet and greet moment and presentation.
While connecting with the players, she sent her elder sister’s regard Nneka, who was unavoidably absent on an assignment with team USA at the ongoing Olympic World Cup Qualifiers.
Speaking with the players, Chiney laid emphasis on Education: “As athletes, we should not ignore other aspects of our lives, rather set goals for ourselves and move toward achieving them”
“Nneka and I were horrible when we started playing basketball, but we were great academically. Nobody thought we would be this good in the game. With encouragement from our parents, we worked hard and it paid off” she said.
“Never use basketball as an excuse not to study, because we cannot do sports for the rest of our lives. When I had to sit out for two years due to injury, ESPN offered an opportunity to work with them as a Sports analyst. Education is the key.” She added.
“With basketball we can be what we want to be. Get a role model and a goal model. My sister is my goal model” she chuckled. “She worth emulating”
Meanwhile, Chineye gave off gifts such as balls, shoes, jerseys and equipment, sponsored by Adidas.