Oladipo’s first choice, of course, is to be selected to play for USA Basketball – the heavy favorites to win a third straight gold medal – in the Summer Olympics. However, if Oladipo is bypassed by USA Basketball, he could opt to play for Nigeria because of his parents’ heritage with the African country.
“Playing in the Olympics is definitely a dream, but I’ll worry about it when the time comes. Right now, the focus is on winning games for the Orlando Magic,’’ Oladipo said on Tuesday. “At the end of the day, whatever (Olympic) opportunity appears on the table, it will be about making the right decision that’s best for me.’’
Oladipo is very proud of his Nigerian heritage and he said that his mother is very aware that her son could play for her native country. Nigeria, the 2015 Africas champion, still must qualify for the Olympics next summer. “My mom obviously knows because she pays attention to stuff like that, but she’s never mentioned anything to me about it,’’ Oladipo said with a chuckle. “I just go out there and play basketball. Whatever decision comes, I’ll make that decision when I need to.’’
“Back in ’04 as I watched where we were, USA Basketball, some of the other countries really had togetherness, like Argentina, like Spain. That was something I thought we needed to develop. So developing a national team concept, stating that we had to change our culture and to see where we are, it makes you feel very good. There was a plan. Right now we’re on a roll.” Colangelo said USA Basketball is seeking sites to play five “friendly” games before going to Rio de Janeiro. He is heading to the Olympic city and said he is concerned about the playing conditions just 11 months before the start of the Games.
Nigeria beat Angola 74-65 in the Final of AfroBasket 2015 in Rades, Tunisia on Sunday to claim their first-ever continental championship. In being crowned African champions, the Nigerians also qualified for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Meanwhile, second-place Angola joined third- and fourth-place Tunisia and Senegal in booking their places for the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (OQTs).