Deng, who played 15 seasons in the NBA, had a familiar face on the opposing bench. Mike Brown coaches the Nigerian team, and used to coach Deng when they were with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014. “I didn’t know he was going to coach the team,” Brown said “I used to coach Luol, now I’m coaching against him.” Brown credited Deng’s squad, which is inexperienced, for their grit.
More than the usual smattering of Nigerian eyes will be fixed on the NBA Draft on Wednesday, as a record-high chunk of the class is made up of Nigeria-origin players. A total of seven players, two born in Nigeria, will be in consideration for pickup by some of the best basketball teams in the world. Precious Achiuwa and Udoka Azubuike are the two who were born in Nigeria. If both are selected in the top 30, it would be the first time that two players from Nigeria are selected in the first round of the same NBA Draft.
Along with Achiuwa and Azubuike, there are also Onyeka Okongwu, Isaac Okoro, Zeke Nnaji, Daniel Oturu, and Jordan Nwora on the cards. “I think it’s big,” Achiuwa said in a pre-Draft Zoom call with ESPN. “It just shows there’s a big talent culture in Nigeria when it comes to basketball, athleticism and athletes as a whole in general. “It speaks to how competitive we are and our willingness to be better in whatever we do.”
Nigeria Basketball: 2015 NBA winner with Golden State Warriors, Festus Ezeli will be on the flight to Rwanda for a chance to represent Nigeria for the first time ever alongside a member of the 2015 Afrobasket winning team, Mike Gbinije.
Nigeria Basketball Federation: “Having Bam in the National team is a possibility that we are considering as a federation ahead of the 2020 Olympics and beyond” “We are excited about how far he has gone and what he can achieve in his career with DTigers if he chooses to play for Nigeria”, Kida said.