Antetokounmpo’s success has heartened many Greeks desperate for their country to become an incubator of dreams instead of a dead zone of joblessness. His parents, Charles and Veronica, moved from Lagos, Nigeria, to Athens in 1991. They left their young son, Francis, with his grandparents. Charles says there were no opportunities in the Nigerian economy. “It was very hard to get a job,” he says. People felt opportunity slipping away. “That’s why we decided to leave, too.”
After leaving college basketball in 2009, Nigeria national team player Chamberlain Oguchi has been the ultimate basketball journeyman, bouncing from professional leagues in Lebanon, Venezuela, Mexico and the Philippines. It seemed he would come and go out of these Olympic Games without much notice. That was before Oguchi scored 35 points in Nigeria’s final preliminary round game, a 79-73 loss to France. Suddenly, several NBA teams are inviting him to training camp on non-guaranteed deals, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. Several teams had front-office executives in London for the performance, where Oguchi made eight of his 14 3-point attempts. Most see value in the versatile 6-foot-6 swingman, who could be had on a rookie-scale contract.
“We all come from the same place,” he said, tracing his team’s roots beyond America. “A lot of these guys here, we’re all from the same background, our parents are from the same place. A lot of these guys on the team speak more than one language.”
Ikechukwu Somtochukwu Diogu was born in Buffalo, N.Y., and raised in Texas of Nigerian-born parents. Though Diogu had not been to Nigeria since 2001, he relates to the country and its diverse cultures. “Even though I grew up in the United States, I was always around Nigerians,” he said. “I grew up in a Nigerian community. When I’m at home, my parents don’t speak to me in English. We eat Nigerian food.” He listed a menu that included jollof rice, fufu and chin chin. “But you probably don’t know what I’m talking about,” he said.
The 83-point victory included a team record 29 3-pointers including 10 from Carmelo. The U.S. also set the all-time Olympic record for points. “On the one side, it’s terrible to get whupped like that,” Nigeria’s Koko Archibong said. “But on the other side, it was something impressive to be a part of – impressive to witness in person.”