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OLYMPIC DREAMS: AFRICANS WITH AMERICAN BASKETBALL BACKGROUNDS.
After earning the right to compete in the Olympic basketball competition for the first time in Nigerian sports history, Alande Aminu and his brother Al-Faroug sat quietly amid the international hustle and bustle of the Stratford Westfield Mall in near Olympic Park trying to conceal their height by sitting down while simultaneously wearing their auspicious national team warm-up practice uniforms.
Alande Aminu, a graduate of Georgia Tech who now plays in the NBA Development League, smiled and seemed to take in the off-court Olympic moment, watching fans watching him as they walked by trying not-so-discretly to read the credential hanging around his neck.
“This is the fist time Nigeria been in the Olympics so it’s a beautiful accomplishment not only for myself but for the county as well,” Aminu said, expressing the historical context of the accomplishment both personally and nationally. ” And i’ m looking forward to completing for a medal, and that’ s bottom line right there.”
Internationally the Nigerian basketball team has taken on the role of cinderella with
FIBA qualifying tournament upset wins over Lithuania and Greece during their improbable road to London.
Nigeria’s opening round victory over Tunisia 60-56 was followed by a loss to Lithuania 72-53. Next on the schedule; LeBron James, and the latest version of America’s Olympic Dream Team as they use a bevy of NBA superstars in quest of gold once again.
Al-Farouq, is a star NBA player as well as proud Nigerian. The xx year-old 6-foot-9 forward sat next to his brother at the mall and talked about the culturally comfortable aspects of competing in the London Olympics.
“it’s been great, I’m really enjoying myself out here,” the 21-year old who was traded from the Clippers to the Hornets as part of the blockbuster, Chris Pau,l deal. ” it’s cool that we went to a country that speaks English and it’s been amazing.”
Both players currently live in Atlanta Georgia and seem to represent the best of both worlds, living their American dreams while competing for their country of origin.
“I want to give a shout-out to Atlanta Georgia zone 60 side of Atlanta where we live,” Alande said, quickly adding a greeting to those he is representing in the UK. ” And also want to give a shout out to Nigeria much love to the green, white and green flag.”
Nigerian Players with American connections
Olumide Oyedeji- Drafted by Seattle Supersonics
Ikechukwu Diogu- Born in Garland Texas, played at Arizona State, drafted by Golden State Warriors.
Richard Oruche-Born in Illinois, graduated from Illinois State
Ejike Ugboaja- First African player to be drafted by the American NBA straight from Africa (Cleveland Cavaliers, second round, 2006)
Adeola Dagunduro- Born in Los Angeles, California University of Nebraska, where he played with the Nebraska Cornhuskers
Chamberlain Oguchi- Born in Houston, Texas, University of Oregon for three years before transferring to Illinois State
Alade Aminu-He played college basketball at Georgia. Traded in March to the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Development League.
Al-Farouq Aminu- Born in Georgia. Selected by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2010 NBA Draft with the 8th overall pick. Clippers traded Aminu, and three other players to the New Orleans Hornets.
Ekene Ibekwe- born in Los Angeles, California and graduated from the University of Maryland
Aniekan Archibong- Borni n California Studied at University of Liverpool and University of Pennsylvania.
Derrick Obasohan-Born on April 18, 1981 in Houston, Texas
Anthony Skinn- former starting guard for the George Mason University Patriots