USA women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley said Thursday she hopes Nigerian-American star Nneka Ogwumike will still be able realise her Olympic dream after a bid to play for the Nigerian team in Tokyo was rejected by FIBA.
Ogwumike and another American Elizabeth Williams were both notified by FIBA that their petitions to join Nigeria at the Olympics were denied because they had played for the United States for too long.
The move came after the Los Angeles Sparks forward was shockingly not selected for the USA team for Tokyo, making her the only WNBA MVP to have never made an Olympic roster.
“I hope FIBA allows her to play because of what she’s given to the game and how hard she’s worked for it. And it’s unfortunate that we can’t take more players to the Olympic Games. But Nneka is one that I’ve enjoyed getting to know over the past four years and I hope she’s able to check off being an Olympian on her list.” Dawn Staley, USA Women’s Basketball Head Coach said.
Nigeria, which would instantly become a medal contender if Ogwumike and Williams were cleared to play, have filed an appeal with FIBA.
Ogwumiked missed out on playing for the USA in 2012 and 2016, but would have the chance to join her two sisters Chiney and Erica in the Nigeria squad if her appeal is successful.
“She’s one of the best, honestly. She’s been MVP. She’s been a champion. And, you know, whether she makes an Olympic team or not or whatever she decides to do, it’s not going to define her her career, which is, in my mind, a first ballot Hall of Fame career already.” Skylar Diggins-Smith, Team USA Guard said of Nneka.