USA Basketball has released Nneka Ogwumike, marking the first step in a potential move to the Nigerian Olympic squad.
Nneka, Chiney and Erica Ogwumike have all been named to the 15-person provisional roster for Nigeria, The sisters, whose parents were both born in Nigeria before immigrating to the United States, have dual citizenship.
Nneka and Chiney previously played for the United States in international events, meaning USA Basketball had to approve their release for a switch in eligibility to be considered under FIBA rules.
“For it to happen would be such a blessing. To be able to do something big for a big part of our heritage would be fantastic. I’m hoping it will contribute to the growth we’re experiencing for Africa in basketball,” Nneka Ogwumike told ESPN.
Under FIBA’s current jurisdiction, the secretary general of the country the player wishes to represent may authorize the switch if there is an explicit interest in the growth of basketball in that country. This exception to FIBA’s naturalization rules could bode well for the Ogwumikes.
Nigeria’s 12-person Tokyo roster has yet to be announced.