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Basketball star denied Olympic bid

Former Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Most Valuable Player Nneka Ogwumike was denied an opportunity to represent Nigeria at the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Ogwumike, who has been involved with United States of America (USA) basketball since high school, has been a longtime member within the US Senior basketball system.

Having won gold with the American team previously, at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup in 2014 and again in 2018, it was a shock that Ogwumike was left off the US team list. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Ogwumike has been missing for the roster list prior to the spectacle that is the Olympics.

She is the only Most Valuable Player in WNBA history not to feature on an Olympic team.

“It was more of a hurt than a shock, because I had experienced it before,” Nneka previously told ESPN. “But there are decisions made in this life that you can’t control. I allowed myself to feel the hurt, but moving on, I decided, ‘I’m going to try to put matters in my own hands.”

The standing International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rule is that a player cannot change their national representation after representing their respective team at senior level – which is after the age of 17.

According to FIBA’s regulations on player eligibility, the organization’s secretary general may authorize a player to compete for the national team of his or her country of origin if this is in the interest of the growth of basketball in that country.

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The Nigerian Basketball Federation (NBBF) has appealed to FIBA on behalf of Ogwumike. Along with Ogwumike, the NBBF has filed an appeal for Elizabeth Williams. Williams is a center for the WNBA franchise the Atlanta Dream – and is involved in a similar situation as she has represented USA basketball at senior level.

Nneka’s two sisters, Chiney and Erika, are currently on D-Tigress’ roster for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Chiney Ogwumike currently plays for the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA with her sister Nneka.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) allows for a roster to consist of one naturalized player – the spot that Chiney Ogwumike currently holds on the Nigerian Senior Women’s team. As such the decision to appeal for Nneka could be a decision could be a large shift for the roster.

Erica was approved to play for Nigeria without any conditions, leaving the three sisters – desperate to play with each other for Nigeria – in three different situations.

The Ogwumike sisters reported to the Nigeria’s training camp ahead of the Olympics

By The African Mirror