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5 Nigerian Basketball Team Players in the NBA

Nigeria Basketball Team

There are many Nigerians playing for different teams in the NBA. The players who are members of the Nigerian basketball team are of Nigerian descent. One thing that stands out for the Nigerian players is their athletic talent which makes it easy for them to shoot a ball through the basketball hoop.

Players from Nigeria are among the tallest NBA players, and because of that, the NBA made Nigeria a priority outreach in 2003 during the first round of basketball without border Outreach. Among players playing in the NBA, 9 of them are from Nigeria. We will list them here.

Top 5 Active Nigerian Basketball Players with Nigerian Origins

1. Precious Achiuwa

The Nigerian basketball player currently playing for Toronto Raptors started wearing basketball shoes in the 8th grade. Then, he moved from his Igbo land in Nigeria to the United States.

Precious_Achiuwa - Tallest NBA Basketball Player
Source: Wikimedia

Achiwa only started playing basketball in the US, his first sport was football, but throughout his school and sports years, he played basketball in the power forward position. He committed to playing basketball in college under his basketball coach Penny Hardaway during the start of his NBA career.

Achiuwa had a successful college career where he combined his academics and hitting the gym to train for a game. He scored 25 points when playing over ole miss, and because of this, he gained the title of the athletic conference player of the week. He also made career success after scoring 3 3-pointers into the basketball net and having 17 points, 2 assists, and  4 rebounds against Memphis.

His professional career started with him playing for the Miami Heat in 2020 and 2021 before moving to Toronto Raptors in 2021, which led to where he currently is.

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo is a greek Nigerian basketball player who plays in the power forward position for the Milwaukee Bucks. Antetokounmpo is strong, fast, and has great ball-handling skills that leave many wondering about the kind of back exercises he performs in the gym. Because of his prowess in the game, many have called him the ‘Greek Freak.’

Giannis_Antetokounmpo - Tallest NBA Basketball Player
Source: Wikimedia

Antetokounmpo was a Nigerian immigrant to Athens, where he started playing for the Athens team Filathlitikos. He was selected 15th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks after he entered the 2013 NBA draft.

In the regular season in 2016, he became one of the few players who finished top 20 in all the major statistical categories, including total points, steals, assists, rebounds, and blocks. He was also awarded the most improved player in 2017 and received six all-star selections, including captain in 2019 and 2020.

While he is not one of the tallest NBA players, Antetokounmpo is considered a great defensive player compared to great players like Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan.

3. Thanasis Antetokounmpo

He is an older brother to Giannis Antetokounmpo and plays the power forward/small forward position after being drafted in the 51st overall position by the  New York Nicks. The 30-year-old player has had a bust career history, having played for 7 NBA teams.

Thanasis_Antetokounmpo - Nigerian Basketball Player
Source: Wikimedia

He has played for Filathlitikos (2011-2013), Delaware 87ers (2013-2014), Westchester Knicks (2014-2016), New York Knicks (2016), Andorra (2016-2017), Panathinaikos (2017-2019), and Milwaukee Bucks where he is currently playing since 2019.

Thanasis has the privilege of playing on the same team with his brother Giannis and together they won the 2021 NBA Championships. His other two brothers who played for Milwaukee Bucks last season are Kostas Antetokounmpo and Alex Antetokounmpo.

He and his brothers started playing basketball in Athens, Greece, where they played for the Filathlitikos before they moved to the US.

4. Udoka Azubuike

Azubuike is a Nigerian American basketball player who started his career in Lagos, Nigeria. He is considered one of the tallest NBA players with a height of 7 feet.

Udoka_Azubike
Source: Wikimedia

The amazing player with a great ability to shoot into the basketball hoop was noticed by several basketball teams. He was given a basketball scholarship to play in the US.

Azubuike had a rough childhood, having lost his father to an undiagnosed illness at the early age of 10, and had to move to the US after gaining his scholarship.

It was here that he attended Potter’s House Christian Academy, where he started playing basketball. He lived in the US under the legal guardianship of his parents and his coach Harry Coxsone and his wife, Donna.

He has been awarded 7 awards, including the NABC defensive player of the year and the big 12 player of the freshman year. Since being drafted by Utah Jazz in 2020 as 27th overall, Azubuike has played for the team.

5. Charles Bassey

Bassey has had a great career with 8 awards and a number of highlights. The player started playing for a Nigerian basketball team before being discovered by a coach who noticed him selling fried chicken while wearing small flip-flops for his feet on the roadside.

Charles Bassey
Source: GettyImages

The coach marveled at Bassey’s ability to shoot balls into the basketball net and decided to focus on building his basketball career. He moved to the US at the age of 14 years where he was named the most valuable player of the camp giants basketball in Africa.

Bassey was drafted in 2021 in the 53rd pick overall position by the Philadelphia 76ers and has since then played for them and Delaware Blue Coats. His basketball career just started in 2021, and everyone is excited to see how one of the tallest NBA players from Nigeria will perform.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What NBA Players are from Nigeria?

Some notable NBA players from Nigeria include Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Olowokandi, and Festus Ezeli. However, several Nigerian-born players have played in the NBA or are currently in the league. These include Al-Farouq Aminu, Josh Okogie, Chimezie Metu, and Gorgui Dieng.

Who is the Nigerian Player in the 2023 NBA Draft?

As of now, it is uncertain who will be representing Nigeria in the 2023 NBA Draft. The draft typically consists of players who have completed their college careers or have played professionally overseas for at least one year. Many young Nigerian players are gaining recognition and making a name for themselves in the international basketball scene, so we may see some of them in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Did Nigeria Qualify for the FIBA World Cup 2023?

Yes, Nigeria has qualified for the FIBA World Cup 2023. The country automatically qualified due to being one of the top three African teams at the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 tournament. It will mark Nigeria’s third consecutive appearance at the FIBA World Cup, with their best finish being in 2019, where they reached the quarterfinals.

Has Nigeria won FIBA?

No, Nigeria has not won a FIBA World Cup or AfroBasket title. However, the Nigerian men’s national basketball team has consistently performed well in international competitions and has achieved their highest FIBA ranking of 14th globally. With a growing pool of talented players and continued development of the sport in the country, Nigeria may soon have a chance at winning a FIBA title shortly. So while they may not have won yet, the potential for success is certainly there.

Conclusion

In the article, we have just mentioned 5 players in the NBA from the Nigerian basketball team that are currently playing in the NBA Finals MVP. Well, other Nigerians, including Chimezie Metu, Monte Morris, Josh Okogie, and Gabe Vincent, are also currently playing on NBA teams.

In the past, there have been great players in the NBA from Nigeria, including Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Olowokandi. This could explain why many coaches and recruiters are keen on selecting players from the Nigerian basketball team.

Thanks to Basketball without borders, many of these players were noticed and recruited into the NBA, and we are excited to see them win as they shoot balls into the basketball hoop and court.