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Olympic Basketball Notes - Nigeria

You might be surprised by some of the names you’ll see here.

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NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Syracuse vs North Carolina
Apr 2, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Michael Gbinije (0) shoots defended by North Carolina Tar Heels forward Kennedy Meeks (3) during the second half in the 2016 NCAA Men's Division I Championship semi-final game at NRG Stadium.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

In 1992, when Charles Barkley took a shot from Angola's very slim Herlander Coimbra, he gave him an NBA-type elbow and then said "somebody hits me, I'm going to hit him back. Even if it does look like he hasn't eaten in a couple weeks. I thought he was going to pull a spear on me."

Barkley had no idea of the guy's name.

African basketball has changed a lot since then. Take Nigeria.

A modern-day Barkley would recognize the Aminu brothers, Alade and Al-Farouq. Both are highly athletic and Al-Farouq has had a successful NBA career (both played in the ACC as well - Alade at Georgia Tech and Al-Farouq for Wake Forest).

Festus Ezeli is the younger Aminu's Portland Trailblazer's teammate. Michael Gbinije, formerly of Duke and Syracuse, is now a Piston.

Ike Diogu had a solid career with Arizona State and was a Top 10 draft pick in 2005.

Ebi Ere played for Oklahoma State.

Ekene Ibekwe played for Maryland.

Shane Lawal? Oakland and Wayne State. Andy Ogide? Ole Miss/Colorado State. Chamberlain Oguchi? Oregon/Illinois State. Raleigh native Stan Okoye? VMI. Michael Umeh? UNLV. Ben Uzoh? Tulsa.

Only Olumide Oyedeji didn't play ball in the U.S.

Nigeria is unlikely to medal but like so many other teams these days, everyone on this team is familiar with every aspect of American basketball. They know the players, they know the coaches, they know the gyms, they know the drills, they even know the rumors. They'll come to play.