Former MVP of American women's basketball league Nneka Ogwumike has been invited to play for Nigeria at the Olympics

Ogwumike was left out of the US Olympic roster.

Nneka Ogwumike will play for Nigeria at the Olympics  (Instagram/Nneka Ogwumike)

One of the most famous names in American women's basketball Nneka Ogwumike is set to play for Nigeria at the forthcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo after she was left out of the U.S. Olympic women's basketball roster.

Ogwumike is a superstar in American Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) where she plays for the Los Angeles Sparks.

The 31-year-old has played for the United States from the Under 18s to the Under 19s and the senior team.

For the senior team, she played at two FIBA World Championships for Women for the United States but has been left off this Olympic team even after recovering from a knee injury she recently suffered.

Ogwumike is hurt from not making the team, and the former WNBA MVP now wants to play for Nigeria, her parents' country.

Ogwumike and her three sisters were born and raised in America to Nigerian parents who kept them close with Nigerian culture.

They also visited Nigeria regularly when they were young.

"I just wanted to bet on myself and also be a part of an organization that prioritizes me," Ogwumike told ESPN.

"My perspective was like, 'If it's not impossible, I'm going to go for it.' Because I believe I have Olympic status, and I plan on being an Olympian."

"I allowed myself to feel the hurt, but moving on, I decided, I'm going to try to put matters in my own hands," she also said.

On Tuesday, June 6, 2021, the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) revealed a 15-woman provisional D'Tigress squad with Ogwumike.

However, many do not understand why she can play for Nigeria, having played for the United States at two senior FIBA Championships.

As confirmed by an NBBF official, Ogwumike has a Nigerian passport which, alongside article 3-37 of FIBA rules, talking about Transfer Procedure – Duties of Member Federations make her eligible to play for Nigeria.

Although FIBA does not allow players more than 17-year-old to switch nationality after playing in a FIBA tournament for a country, the organization's secretary-general may authorize a player to compete for the national team of his or her country of origin if this is in the interest of the growth of basketball in that country.

One of FIBA's priorities is on the growth of women's basketball worldwide, favouring Nneka's case.

To complete the process of committing her international allegiance to Nigeria, the player must obtain a letter of clearance from US Basketball and also one from FIBA.

USA Basketball, according to reports, has given her the clearance to play for Nigeria with only FIBA's approval remaining.

Ogwumike is on Nigeria's provisional roster along with her two sisters Chiney and Erica. Unlike the older Ogwumike, Chiney and Erica have not played for the United States in a FIBA tournament.

Erica committed to playing for the Nigerian team last year, while Chiney recently declared her interest.


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