Nigerian basketball star Orlando Magic Al-Farouq Aminu says his hope is to see more Nigerians born in the United States of America play for D´Tigers veterans, Completesports.com reports.
Aminu, 29, participated in the London Olympics in Nigeria in 2012 and celebrated the triumph of the FIBA AfroBasket 2015 title.
Most recently, he played for Nigeria at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China and helped his country qualify for a third consecutive Olympics in Tokyo 2020.
The Atlanta-born Georgia striker says he and his teammates in Nigeria can do more by helping to bring the best young players to the national team program.
“There are other things that we can do for our youth teams. Many of our players played for the US youth teams, but I want them to see this as an opportunity too, to be proud to play for the national team of Nigeria. "
Aminu says he is proud to know that he played an important role in bringing a winning culture to the national team, D´Tigers.
"I feel really honored (for being part of it)", he was quoted on fiba.basketball.
“I remember one of my friends saying to me: thank you for what you did; you played for the national team early in your career; some guys played when they were almost out of the league, or out of the league.
"I gave years of quality to the national team. I also had a purpose.
“Obviously, my goal was to win, but with the situations we had, it would be difficult to win a medal (at the World Cup) the way we wanted to, and although that's what we try to do every time, sometimes you have to be realistic.
"I changed one of my main goals so that Nigerian basketball would be kept in good condition for longer, to have that longevity, and I am very proud of it. I feel that this goal is being achieved."
He says the recent announcement that coach Mike Brown, a Golden State Warriors associate, will coach D´Tigers at the Olympics is a sign that Nigerian basketball is moving in the right direction.
"When I joined the national team, I felt that people didn't take it seriously, or whatever the case may be," he said.
“Seeing it in a place where it is now, with guys wanting to play for it at the beginning of their careers and coaches wanting to train, seeing it as an opportunity – I feel what we were able to do for the last time a few years, bringing out a light where we play every year and we always qualify for events, this has taken Nigerian basketball and African basketball in general to a new location.
"I am super excited (with Brown). Obviously, he is trained at the highest level. He will bring a lot of ethics and work experience to our game and will also be good for young people, players who play abroad, with the credibility that Brown brings ".
Aminu helped Nigeria finish as the best-placed African team at the World Cup last summer in China, which qualified D´Tigers for the Olympics in Japan.
"It is always a pleasure to play for my national team and I am very proud of them."
He also likes the idea that high-profile players like Jahlil Okafor raised their hand and expressed a desire to play for Nigeria at the Olympics, which were postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's kind of weird, because NBA players don't always translate very well to the game abroad, but they bring notoriety and, obviously, they are very talented players," said Al-Farouq.
"I don't necessarily know if everything is going to work out the way we want to, but I just appreciate the fact that the guys are saying they want to play because, a few years ago, it wasn't even close to that. They wouldn't have declared it anytime soon. For him to say : & # 39; Yes, I want to play & # 39 ;, this is super cool. ”
By James Agberebi
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