Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo, who scrimmaged in a Team USA jersey in August, may want to play for Nigeria at the Rio Olympics, should he not be chosen for the U.S. team next summer, according to NBA.com.
The Maryland-born Oladipo’s parents are Nigerian.
“Playing in the Olympics is definitely a dream, but I’ll worry about it when the time comes,” Oladipo said, according to the website. “Whatever [Olympic] opportunity appears on the table, it will be about making the right decision that’s best for me.”
Oladipo, 23, was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft out of Indiana and scored 17.9 points per game last season.
In August, he was one of 34 players named on a USA Basketball roster for a camp deemed mandatory for Olympic participation.
But he hasn’t played in major international competition for the U.S., so he is eligible to switch to Nigeria, according to USA Basketball.
The final U.S. Olympic team may not be chosen until late June — a little more than one month before the Olympics — and will include 12 players, and the competition to be one of four or five guards is deep. London Olympians James Harden, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook were on the camp roster, as were 2014 FIBA World Cup guards Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving, plus John Wall.
In 2014, Oladipo said playing on the U.S. Olympic team was a lifelong dream and that he realistically hoped to make it for the 2020 Olympics, according to NBA.com.
“Isn’t that every little kid’s dream? For me to be a part of that team, it would be a blessing,” Oladipo said, according to the website. “That’s something that I have added to my goals list, and I want to keep working and getting better.”
Both the U.S. and Nigeria are already qualified for the Olympic men’s basketball tournament, along with seven other teams.
Nigeria won the African Olympic qualifying tournament in August, led by 2012 Olympian Al-Farouq Aminu, an Atlanta-born Portland Trail Blazers forward who also has Nigerian parents.
African nations have lost 25 straight Olympic men’s basketball games to non-African nations, the last win coming by Angola over South Korea in the 11th-place game at Atlanta 1996.
For 2012, Tunisia won the African qualifying tournament for the London Olympics, while Nigeria was the last of 12 nations into the Olympic tournament by placing third in a global, last-chance qualifying tournament.
In London, Nigeria beat Tunisia 60-56 in the first game of the Olympic tournament. Nigeria went on to lose to the U.S. 156-73 in group play, marking the biggest U.S. men’s margin of victory in Olympic history.
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