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Nigeria’s D’Tigers most attractive team as NBA’s Dinwiddie, others chase team

When Nigeria’s national basketball team D’Tigers go into camp in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics, the challenge may not be the lack of talent but the overdose of it. D’Tigers have reached the great heights in such that many big time basketballers, even with minimal link to Nigeria now want to star with the team at the Olympics.

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie is the latest of those making arrangements to play for the Nigerian team. Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news of the latest candidate via a tweet late on Saturday.

The American Dinwiddie who averaged 20.6 points and 6.8 assists per game this season was not listed among the 44 players by USA Basketball for the Olympic team when their roster was made public in February.

The Nigeria Basketball Federation members have been busy scheduling different sessions over the last three years to get the best of Nigerian players scattered across the world. Many of these players either left the country with their parents at a very young age or were born outside and have visited Nigeria just a few times with their parents. Some of these players approached the federation themselves to declare their interest while the others were sought for by the Nigerian coaches.

The last one year has been of great interest to many quite ahead of the FIBA World Cup in China which served as the first stage for the qualifiers to the Olympics. Nigeria executed the World Cup qualifiers with nearly 30 players as the roster continued to change even though it actually paid off with the team getting to high points. Nigeria was the first country in the world to qualify for China 2019 with lots of matches to spare during the qualifiers.

On Sunday the NBBF vice president Babs Ogunade in an interview with this writer assured Nigerians that the federation would be able to manage pressure and get the best team possible.

Ogunade said, “The NBBF is keeping its options open; it has a lot of interested players from both the NBA and NCAA with attachments to Nigeria who have indicated interests to play for Nigeria. We shall consider each on a case by case basis.

“The Olympics is a big sporting event and the very best come out to compete. The NBBF is keeping its options open. NBBF will consider each player (including Spencer) on a case by case basis and of course in accordance with the FIBA rules.”

Nigeria recently got Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown to manage the team as the build up to the now postponed Olympics continues. If Spencer ever makes it with the Nigerian team he will join other NBA-Nigeria on the roster that includes Al-Farouq Aminu, Josh Okogie, Chimezie Metu and Ekpe Udoh. But there are also Jordan Nwora, a 2020 Draft prospect out of Louisville, former Nets player Ben Uzoh and former NBA player Ike Diogu who captains the team.

The challenge to the dreams of Spencer and others aspiring to play for Nigeria, would be to meet the criteria required to become listed as a bona fide Nigerian player. Nigerian officials have said that the desire to play is not enough unless the player is truly eligible.

The basketball world governing body, FIBA has set down rules to meet before players can feature for any country of their choice. There are a number of players that expressed interest in the past but could not meet the requirements. A player did train with the Nigerian women on the way to Spain 2018 World Cup but could not play for Nigeria because of the eligibility clause.

Nigeria has been an African power over the years, using a mixture of Nigerian-Americans and players in the domestic league.

Spencer Gray Dinwiddie according to Wikipedia was born April 6, 1993. He played college basketball for the Colorado Buffaloes and was selected by the Detroit Pistons in the second round of the 2014 NBA draft. After two seasons with the Pistons, he joined the Nets in December 2016. In December 2018 he signed a three-year contract extension with the Nets.

-        By Pius Ayinor (@pee4pius)

Content created and supplied by: PiusAyinor2 (via Opera News )

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