Josh Okogie. Al-Farouq Aminu. Chimezie Metu. Ekpe Udoh.
The Nigerian national basketball team has a number of current and former NBA players on it. It was good enough for the squad to finish 17th overall at the FIBA World Cup last summer, which qualified them to represent Africa in the Tokyo Olympics (now planned for July 2021).
Nigeria’s team just got even better.
Sources: Nets‘ Spencer Dinwiddie is acquiring a Nigerian passport to play for the Nigeria national team. Dinwiddie didn’t receive Team USA Olympic invite; now joins Nigeria roster under Mike Bown that includes Al-Farouq Aminu, Josh Okogie, Chimezie Metu, Ekpe Udoh.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 18, 2020
Spencer Dinwiddie averaged 20.6 points and 6.8 assists a game for the Nets last season and would have been a leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year if injuries to Kyrie Irving didn’t force Dinwiddie into more of a starting role.
Nigeria started Ike Iroegbu — the former Washington State player who was with the Wizards’ G-League team last season and has played in Germany overseas — as their starting point guard at the World Cup. Dinwiddie is an upgrade.
It’s the kind of thing Okogie wants to see. During All-Star weekend in Chicago, he talked about how proud he was to represent Nigeria, but that he thinks the team can take a step forward.
“We definitely want to see some improvements,” said Okogie, who was part of the World Team for Rising Stars. “There are a lot of things we could have done better at the World Cup but I am just glad we got the Olympics place, too… I think we will just try to win one game at a time and see where that takes us.”
Nigeria hired Mike Brown as its new head coach. Brown is the former Cavaliers and Lakers head coach who now sits next to Steve Kerr on the bench in Golden State. He will bring a high level of basketball knowledge and discipline to the team.
NBA players’ participation in the Tokyo Olympics remains undecided. If the NBA plays out some version of the rest of this season and the playoffs, pushing into August and maybe September, it would force the next season to start late. If the NBA pushes back the calendar on next season — say a December start with the Finals in August — it would keep some, if not all, NBA players from the Tokyo Olympics. The opening ceremonies in Tokyo are scheduled for July 23, 2021. Based on the schedule they planned to use this year, USA Basketball would start its training camp in early July, before July 4.