Team USA opened exhibition play for the Olympics with a shocking loss to Nigeria.
However, it’s only shocking if you don’t pay much attention: Nigeria has eight NBA players, which may be more than any team except the US.
Duke fans will probably recognize names like Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech) and Jordan Nwora (Louisville) and may recognize Precious Achiuwa (Memphis) and KZ Okpala (Stanford).
The D’Tigers are also coached by NBA veteran coach Mike Brown who was the NBA Coach of the Year in 2009. Essentially it’s an NBA team with an NBA coach.
One name will really jump out though: Jahlil Okafor, who was Duke’s big man on the 2015 national championship team, is on Nigeria’s roster for the Games.
Okafor of course has struggled in his NBA career. He had some serious personal issues in his rookie year and has played for Philly, Brooklyn, New Orleans and, currently, Detroit. His best year was his first and this past season, he averaged 19 mpg, scored 10.4 ppg and pulled down 4.7 rpg. He’s still listed at 270 but has put a tremendous amount of work in to refine his body and doesn’t look at all like the same player he was at Duke.
The thing is, Nigeria has a legitimate shot at winning. After all his struggles, wouldn't it be amazing to see Okafor celebrate gold with Africa’s first championship team?