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Playing for Nigeria my decision, not dad’s –Nwora, basketball star

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Playing for Nigeria my decision, not dad’s –Nwora, basketball star

Jordan Nwora, D’Tigers new kid on the block and University of Louisville forward, told CHARLES OGUNDIYA that he had always seen himself as having more affinity with Africa than United States of America, the country of his birth. Nwora has already broken the record for most points scored in a Nigerian national game with 36 points when he led the team to a 93-53 defeat of Mali. He also chipped in five rebounds, four assists, and four steals. The 19-year-old has averaged over 21 points per game thus far, and looks every bit the talent that he has been projected to be. Excerpts…

 

How did you come into basketball as a player?
The ball was put in my hands by my dad; playing basketball for me was from childhood. Playing the game has been part of my life from childhood and I am happy to be a basketball player.

So you decided to play the game because your daddy plays it too?
Yes. It is what we all play at home and that makes it easier for me to be properly integrated into it. Growing up, seeing my people playing, I was able to learn the rudiments of the game and understand it very well.

How does it feel playing under your father as coach?
He has been there always as my coach, but it’s a little bit like a new experience playing for him at the national team level. I haven’t had the experience of playing under him in a team before. I am happy I got the opportunity to play.

At just 19, you made your debut for Nigeria; how does it feel competing for the country?
It feels so great; we had a successful tournament, winning all our games. Playing with such great players was good for me and my confidence. I am very happy with the outcome of the competition and look forward to doing better things for the country.

Playing for Nigeria, was it a case of trying to fulfil your dad’s wish or you really wanted to play for the country?
I’m playing for Nigeria because I love to play for the country. I was born in the US but I see myself more as pan-African; my whole life has been in the States, at the same time, I always love to be associated with the continent.

What’s growing up like for you as a Pan-African boy?
I love everything about my growing up. I will say I was privileged to have everything like other kids while growing up. I mean everything you need and I am happy I was one of those people. It has been fantastic playing under my dad both at home and with the national team now. He had been my coach from when I was a baby and would continue to be.

Is playing in African teams tougher than what you have experienced in your basketball career?
Yes, definitely tougher. Everyone plays physical here compared to what I was used to in the past. I had a broken face in the friendly game against Benin Republic, but I guess I am getting used to it. It was a little bit tough at first, but now getting better. It’s different playing African basketball, not what I am used to because of the physicality. Back home I am one of the big guys in my team but here it’s different. It’s something I have to get used to, it is not going to just happen right away.

How was the qualifiers for you in terms of playing in front of Nigeria fans?
It was a great moment for me playing at home for my baptism of fire as a D’Tigers player. A good first time experience as a national team player.

What was the reception like for you from the fans and the country as a whole?
The fans really gave me a sense of belonging by cheering me on; a lot of messages passed across to me. They made me believe that they love what I am doing for the team. I was a little tense in the first game, trying to give my best but I progressed in the second game before the final game where I recorded the highest number of points against Mali in Lagos. I really love the fans for allowing me to settle down well. It’s been a good outing for me.

How did the senior players in the team like Jeleel Akindele, Ike Diogu, Ben Uzor and others receive you?
They are all professionals, high level players and top guys playing for the team. A lot of nerves playing with them and another opportunity to learn from them. A lot of experience taken from these guys that will help my professional career.

Could you describe the journey so far and plans for the future?
Right now I am at the university. Last year was a little tough for me because we had a new coach and it was somehow difficult. But I am looking forward to a better moment. As for the future, I really want to play for a top club in the NBA.

How has it been combining education with sports?
My mum is always there for me in terms of my studies. She is there for me in terms of academy while my dad is always there for me as per the sports. Education is very important and I am still going to get my degrees and other things I need to achieve academically. It has been a good thing for me having those two people (dad and mum) in my world, helping me through life challenges.

With Nigeria through to the second round of the qualifiers, do you see the team qualifying for the World Cup in China next year?
Yes, I believe in this team. We have what it takes to achieve that putting into consideration the calibre of players in the team. We are having most of our pros playing across the world and this will surely help the team.

What are your dreams as a player?
That’s to be an NBA player for years, winning a lot for my club and country.

Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
To be in the NBA hopefully and doing what I love doing- playing basketball.

You have been in the country for a while now, have you been taking Nigeria food especially the popular jollof rice?
Yes, I have been doing that and also love the jollof rice.

So which local delicacy is your favourite?
I love egusi soup (melon soup) and pounded yam. I am a water guy.

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  1. Pingback: Playing for Nigeria my decision, not dad’s –Nwora, basketball star — New Telegraph - Naijaray Headline

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