Sorry Nigerians, but Victor Oladipo may just have broken some hearts. Basketball enthusiasts hoping to see the Orlando Magic shooting guard join the D’Tigers for next Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil may be saddened by the latest development.
USA Basketball, the United States basketball program, invited Oladipo along with other NBA players to participate in a minicamp in Las Vegas to select players for its 2016 team to the Olympics, according to ESPN reporter Marc Stein.
There were indications a few months ago that Oladipo may represent Nigeria, his parents’ birth country, in international tournaments. Hopes were up around Nigeria in February when the Indiana University alumna announced during the NBA All Star weekend that he strongly identifies with Nigeria.
“Both my parents are from Nigeria. They came over here about 28 years ago for better work and better lives, that’s the blood that goes in my veins. I am Nigerian at the end of the day.” – Victor Oladipo
In response to the hint that he may one day play for Nigeria, former national team coach of D’Tigers Ayodele Bakare could not hide his excitement, knowing the benefits of having a player of Oladipo’s calibre represent the country.
“Did I not tell you that we can get him to play for us? Now, it’s over to you, NBBF. Let your recruiting machinery go to work overtime. Let’s make hay while the sun is shining. This boy must not get away.”
Well, it appears the boy did get away. Perhaps, the Nigerian Basketball Federation’s recruiting machinery was not up to the task. It was under Bakare’s watch that the likes of Al-Farouq Aminu, Alade Aminu, and Ike Diogu were recruited to represent Nigeria at London 2012, Nigeria’s debut at a male basketball tournament in an Olympic event where the United States dominated Nigeria in epic fashion.
USAB managing director Jerry Colangelo said that the invitation to participate at the three day event from August 11 to 13 is mandatory for those players seeking to secure a spot on the 12-man roster for the United States team to Rio 2016. “It’s important for everyone to be here as a sign of commitment for 2016,” Colangelo said.
Those hoping to see the 6’4 high-flying Oladipo wear a green-white-green jersey may as well kiss that chance goodbye.