Nigeria asks FIBA to let Ogwumike, Williams play

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Nigerian women’s basketball coach Otis Hughley Jr. has called on FIBA to let Nigerian American players Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike and Elizabeth Williams compete for Nigeria in the Tokyo Olympics.

Hughley Jr. said that FIBA should allow them to play in order to live up to its pledge of wanting to improve the sport of women’s basketball. 

“Allow them the opportunity to help grow the game,” Hughley said, adding that it would mean a great deal to Nigeria and Africa to even be in contention to possibly win an Olympic medal. No African nation has ever won a medal in men’s or women’s basketball.

FIBA’s website states that part of the organization’s mission is “the unifying of the community, along with the promotion and development of the sport” with its three strategic priorities being “empowering national federations, promoting women in basketball, and enlarging the FIBA family.”

“That continent would just be turned on its head for basketball. In a good way,” Hughley said. “You have no idea how many lives would be impacted and changed for the ages.”

After Sunday’s 93-62 loss to Team USA, the team’s official Twitter dropped the following tweet:

The Ogwumike sisters alongside Williams filed an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Friday, asking it to rule on FIBA’s denial. They, too, argued that their participation with Nigeria would help the game’s growth. 

Nigeria is set to begin play in the Olympics against Team USA on July 27.