Nigerian Basketball Player Michael Ojo Dies At 27 In Serbia

This file photograph taken on March 16, 2017, shows Michael Ojo #50, then of the Florida State Seminoles, as he shoots for the basket in the second half against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. Mike Ehrmann / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

 

Michael Ojo, a Nigerian basketball player who previously played for Red Star Belgrade, died at the age of 27 during a training session in the Serbian capital on Friday, the club said.

“We are deeply saddened by the news”, Red Star’s spokesperson Igor Vujicin told AFP.

The club couldn’t confirm the cause of death, but local media reported that Ojo suffered a heart attack.

Born in Lagos, the 2.16 metre (7ft 1in) centre played for Florida State University in the United States before coming to Europe to start his professional career.

After a stint with the Belgrade team FMP Zeleznik, he moved to European giants Red Star, where he spent two seasons, quickly becoming a fan favourite.

Ojo had been without a club since June 30 but was training in Belgrade.

His former team released a statement mourning the loss of the “cheerful giant”.

“The sudden and shocking death of Michael Ojo has deeply affected everyone — players, coaches and the management of a club that accepted him from the first day, and that he considered his own,” Red Star said.

EuroLeague also extended condolences to Ojo’s family, teammates, coaches, “and many fans who enjoyed his performances”.

AFP

Basketball Star LeBron James Seeks To Promote African-American Voting Rights

(FILES) In this file photo LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands on the court injured during a time out in their game against the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center in San Francisco, California. EZRA SHAW / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

 

Basketball star LeBron James announced Wednesday that he and several other professional athletes plan to found a charitable organization to protect black Americans’ voting rights, five months ahead of the country’s presidential election, The New York Times reported.

The move also comes as mammoth protests have swept the United States and the world calling for an end to hundreds of years of racial discrimination against black people.

“We feel like we’re getting some ears and some attention, and this is the time for us to finally make a difference,” James told The New York Times.

The organization, called More Than A Vote, aims to encourage African Americans to register to vote and to show up to the polls for the November 3 elections.

The group will also fight against any factors that could contribute to African Americans’ disenfranchisement.

“Yes, we want you to go out and vote, but we’re also going to give you the tutorial,” James told the Times. “We’re going to give you the background of how to vote and what they’re trying to do, the other side, to stop you from voting.”

James, who has more than 135 million follows across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook said he plans to use social media to denounce attempts to limit voting from racial minorities.

“King James” himself will finance the project, joined by basketball players Trae Young and Jalen Rose, football player Alvin Kamara, and comedian Kevin Hart.

The group plans to collaborate with other get-out-the-vote organizations, the newspaper reported, including When We All Vote and Fair Fight.

The initiative comes as the US grapples with renewed anger over racism and police violence after the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man who was killed last month when a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

James had expressed his own anger on Instagram, posting Floyd’s last words “I can’t breathe.”

The voting movement is not the Los Angeles Laker’s first foray into politics. He appeared at a campaign event for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Nor is it his first charitable endeavor: He has offered university scholarships through the LeBron James Family Foundation and even set up a school for third through eighth-graders in his home state of Ohio.

James also heads a production studio producing a documentary about the massacre of approximately 300 African Americans in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921.

AFP

I Will Be An Asset To The Team, Says D’Tigress Prospect Erica Ogwumike

Erica Ogwumike, unlike her sisters, wants to play for Nigeria. Photo: Twitter/Minnesota Lynx.
Erica Ogwumike, unlike her sisters, wants to play for Nigeria. Photo: Twitter/Minnesota Lynx.

 

Minnesota Lynx’s Erica Ogwumike has said she will be an asset to the D’Tigress if given the opportunity.

Erica, the youngest of the Ogwumike sisters – Nneka, Chiney, and Olivia –wants to play for the Nigerian team, unlike her sisters.

The basketball player who combines playing the game and being a medical student said she is proud of her Nigerian heritage and wants to experience featuring for the West African side.

“I do want to play for the Nigerian team,” she told Channels TV in an Instagram live chat on Friday. “It will be an amazing opportunity. I want to experience what it is playing for a country with so much pride and custom.”

According to her, she has seen the D’Tigress competing at the highest level of the game, saying that even though the team has so much talent, she hopes to bring her communication skills and ability to work in a team to bear.

“I think I will just be able to bring energy and scoring abilities to that team that already has much of it which is so awesome,” the 22-year-old explained. “Being the youngest of all (in her family), I have learned how to work on a team, work with people, and communicate. I think I could potentially be an asset to the team.”

Explaining further, she said it will be a thing of pride to suit up for the Nigerian side, and looks forward to playing for the Africans at the Tokyo Olympics.

Combining studies and playing basketball has not been easy, but Erica noted that she has had to develop time management skills and strike a balance between the two.

French Basketballer Fined $1,400 For ‘Disrespecting’ Chinese Flag

Guerschon Yabusele #30 of the Boston Celtics grabs the rebound against the Philadelphia 76ers during Day 2 of the 2019 Las Vegas Summer League on July 6, 2019 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

 

A French former NBA player has been reprimanded and fined $1,400 by sports officials in China for not looking at the Chinese flag during the national anthem before a game.

Players with the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) are supposed to stare at the national symbol during the “March of the Volunteers”, but television images showed Guerschon Yabusele, who plays for Nanjing Tongxi Monkey King, had his head down before Friday’s game.

Yabusele was given a “serious warning” and a 10,000-yuan fine for not looking at the flag as required, the CBA said in a statement on Saturday.

Yabusele, who played forward for the Boston Celtics for two seasons before joining the CBA team this year, has not commented on the incident.

China’s government has stepped up the promotion of patriotism under President Xi Jinping, with legislation approved in 2017 to punish anyone who disrespects the national anthem with up to three years in prison.

Opinions on Yabusele’s punishment were divided on Chinese social media.

“He’s happy to take money from China, but he doesn’t respect it,” one person wrote on the popular Weibo social media platform.

“This player must be expelled immediately and his club must be disqualified from the championship,” another said.

But many found the sanction to be harsh.

“It’s nonsense. First, he’s not Chinese. Moreover, he stood up and didn’t make any insulting gesture,” one person wrote.

“He has his head down. So what? In what era does the CBA live? It’s 50 years behind.”

Yabusele is not the first foreign athlete to break patriotic rules in China.

Last year, Shandong Luneng’s Brazilian midfielder Diego Tardelli was handed a one-game ban for rubbing his face during the anthem before a game.

AFP

Pitino To Coach Greek National Basketball Team – Federation

 

Former NBA coach Rick Pitino will take over the Greek national team next May, the country’s basketball federation president said Friday.

“We have moved quietly and we have ensured such a top-level coach. Since he has obligations in the United States and must return there, he will be with us in May,” federation president Giorgos Vasilakopoulos told Thema 104.6 FM radio.

Greek media had reported that Pitino would return to coach Panathinaikos, having joined the Greek club last December, but Vasilakopoulos said the coach “has no time for Panathinaikos.”

The 67-year-old former coach of the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks led Panathinaikos to the Greek league championship last season before quitting because he said he wanted to return to the US.

Pitino was fired by the University of Louisville in October 2017 after a pay-for-play recruiting scandal.

He coached the New York Knicks for two seasons from 1987-1989 and then took over a scandal-hit University of Kentucky programme and delivered an NCAA crown in 1996.

In 1997, Pitino returned to the NBA with the Celtics as team president and coach but could only guide the team to one winning season before resigning and taking over at Louisville in 2001.

The Cardinals won a national championship in 2013, the same year Pitino was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, but Louisville later vacated the title due to recruiting violations.

Greece, led by current NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, were eliminated in the group phase of this year’s Basketball World Cup in China.

First Bank, Air Warriors Win At Zenith Bank Women Basketball League National Final 8

 

Delta Force slumped to their first defeat at the ongoing Zenith Bank Women Basketball League National Final 8 with a 42-67pts loss to First Bank.

Delta Force tried all they could against First Bank but their offensive prowess was put under check from the determined First Bank players who had a total of 25 defensive rebounds.

Okoro Ifunanya with 14 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds and Regina Iornumbe with 14 points provided the platform on which the Elephant Girls built their success.

In the second game of the day which was a local derby between two Abuja based sides- Air Warriors defeated Black Gold Queens 87-58points.

The scoreline did not reflect the stiff competition between the 2 sides due to the wastefulness of Black Gold ladies inside their opponnent’s paint.

Experienced Blessing Kasham was the highest scorer for the Warriors with 31 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists.

As expected, the game between MFM and Dolphins went down to the wire which was decided in the last few seconds of the game.

At the end of the third game of match day two at the ongoing 2019 Zenith Bank Women Basketball League National Final 8, Dolphins won 56-51 points in what seems to be a revenge following their bitter 1point loss at the conference phase in Ibadan.

With the victory, Dolphins have won their 2nd game on the trot as MFM continue the search for their first win of the 2019 Zenith Bank Women Basketball League National Final 8

Gbihi Cynthia once again came through for Dolphins with 17points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists.

Odiowei Susan managed 10points and 1 rebound for MFM which was not enough to secure a win.

It was a blow out for Custom as they recorded 69-34 points victory over Plateau Rocks in the last match of the day at the ongoing Zenith Bank Women Basketball League National Final 8

Joseth Anaswem was the man of the match with 15 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists.

In group A, Plateau Rocks will come up against First Bank who are yet to lose a game while Customs face Delta Force.

In group B, Black Gold and MFM Queens will clash as both teams search for their first win of the competition while Dolphins will play Air Warriors in a match that will decide the group leader.

Last group games will be decided on Sunday starting by 12noon.

Buhari Praises D’Tigress For Afrobasket 2019 Victory

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated the national female basketball team, D’Tigress, for a highly impressive outing at the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket 2019 in Dakar, Senegal.

He commended the team in a statement on Sunday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, after Nigeria beat the Senegalese side 60-55 to win the trophy.

READ ALSO: D’Tigress Beat Senegal To Win 2019 FIBA Afrobasket Championship

President Buhari also lauded the D’Tigress for a remarkably synergised play that enabled them to outpace and outplay all the teams at the tournament to retain the title they won in 2017, further consolidating their position as African champions with four titles.

He praised the team for discipline, maturity and focus all through the tournament, and deliberateness in promoting the Nigerian flag and accompanying virtues of resilience, persistence and dogged pursuit until victory was achieved.

The Buhari also sent appreciation to all the officials and technical hands that guided the team to win the African title.

He, however, urged them to remain focused on deploying such energy and talent in subsequent global tournaments.

Rivers Hoopers To Withdraw From Maiden FIBA Africa Basketball League

Rivers Hoopers To Withdraw From Maiden FIBA Africa Basketball League

 

Rivers Hoopers have decided to withdraw from the FIBA Africa Basketball League due to financial reasons.

With only a few days left to its opening game, the team is still in Port Harcourt with little or no funding to travel to Morocco to honour the fixtures.

General Manager of the club, Ifie Ozaka, said the club was considering sending a letter to FIBA, notifying them of Rivers Hoopers’ intention to pull out of the competition.

Ozaka, however, urged the club’s sponsor, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike to see to the team’s plight.

A potential withdrawal of Rivers Hoopers from the ongoing FIBA Africa Basketball League will lead to a ban from subsequent FIBA Africa Club competitions and a huge fine for failing to participate.

Rivers Hoopers are scheduled to play against hosts, AS Sale on Friday, March 1, 2019.

Lakers Snap 9-Game Skid With Win Over Hawks

Lakers Snap 9-Game Skid With Win Over Hawks
LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 7: Larry Nance Jr. #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball against the Atlanta Hawks on January 7, 2018, at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. ANDREW D. BERNSTEIN / NBAE / Getty Images / AFP

 

The Los Angeles Lakers snapped a nine-game NBA losing streak on Sunday with a 132-113 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

Brandon Ingram scored 20 points to lead the Lakers, who hadn’t won a game since a December 20 victory over the Houston Rockets.

The victory quieted some of the noise growing around the embattled young team, including comments by outspoken basketball patriarch LaVar Ball — father of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball — who told ESPN that coach Luke Walton had lost the confidence of his players.

“I would disagree with that,” Walton said at shootaround on Sunday morning, telling reporters that even as the defeats piled up his players were playing hard.

The difference against the Hawks, Walton said after the much-needed win, was a defensive commitment that set up the Lakers’ transition offence.

“I think it triggered everything for us tonight,” Walton said. “Once we got engaged and we were crashing back on the glass and able to get out and run … it was good to see the guys get back to that mode where defence anchors what we do offensively.”

Lonzo Ball, playing just his second game after missing six with a shoulder sprain, was under scrutiny after his father’s latest remarks.

He scored 13 points and pulled down 10 rebounds while handing out six assists.

When he departed the game with 2:53 remaining, along with Kyle Kuzma, Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randle they were cheered by fans — a turnaround from the boos heard during a loss to Charlotte on Friday.

At 12-27 the Lakers remain at the bottom of the Western Conference. But they avoided matching the longest losing streak in franchise history.

Walton, while encouraged, said he wasn’t expecting smooth sailing for his young players, but he said insisted their growing pains wouldn’t tear them apart.

“The team’s been fine,” he said. “We’ve got guys and a group that are still figuring things out. It’s nothing new when young teams that are trying to get better go through hard times.”

– Ageless Ginobili –

Western Conference contenders San Antonio and Oklahoma City both endured defeats on the road.

In Portland, CJ McCollum flashed to the basket and floated in the game-winner with 5.9 seconds left as the Trail Blazers edged the San Antonio Spurs 111-110.

LaMarcus Aldridge had a chance to answer for the Spurs, but his mid-range jump shot bounced off the back rim at the buzzer.

The Spurs were missing four regulars, including Tony Parker and All-Star Kawhi Leonard, who has a partial tear of a muscle in his left shoulder, according to San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich.

Portland were also short-handed, as point guard Damian Lillard was a late scratch with a calf injury.

The close contest featured four lead changes in the final 2:48.

Aldridge led the Spurs with 30 points and 40-year-old Argentinian veteran Manu Ginobili chipped in 26 to become the oldest player to score 20-plus points in back-to-back games.

In Phoenix, the Suns withstood a triple-double from NBA Most Valuable Player Russell Westbrook to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-100.

Devin Booker led the Suns with 26 points and forward TJ Warren added 23.

Phoenix also got a key contribution from 20-year-old Croatian Dragan Bender off the bench as he produced a career high of 20 points, including six three-pointers.

Westbrook posted his 14th triple-double of the season with 26 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds but the Thunder never led after the first quarter.

In Dallas, the New York Knicks thwarted a late surge by the Mavericks to triumph 100-96, snapping a three-game losing streak.

Kristaps Porzingis led the Knicks with 29 points and Jarrett Jack’s 12 included a floater with 31.2 seconds left that broke a 94-94 tie and put the New York ahead for good.

The Knicks had led by 13 with 4:49 left to play only for the Mavs to roar back, but New York held on to claim just their fourth road win of the season.

“We weathered the storm,” Jack said. “We had some hiccups throughout it, but for the most part we weathered the storm.”

AFP

Lakers Fined $500,000 Over Paul George Saga

 

NBA player Paul George attends the Showtime, WME IME and Mayweather Promotions VIP Pre-Fight party for Mayweather vs. McGregor at T-Mobile Arena on August 26, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Bryan Steffy / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

The Los Angeles Lakers have been fined $500,000 (594,000 euros) for making an illegal approach to Paul George while he was under contract at the Indiana Pacers, the NBA announced on Thursday.

A statement from the NBA said the Lakers had been found in violation of anti-tampering rules designed to prevent teams from tapping up players under contract elsewhere.

An independent investigation found that the Lakers had breached the regulations after general manager Rob Pelinka made contact with George’s agent.

The Lakers had already been warned about possible tampering by the NBA in April, when the president of basketball operations Magic Johnson talked about George during a national television appearance.

The investigation, however, found no evidence that the Lakers and George had already reached agreement about a future deal.

George was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in June after informing the Pacers that he planned to opt out of his contract in 2018 as a free agent.

George is reportedly keen to return to his native California to join the Lakers, with team chief Johnson on the record as an admirer.

George averaged 23.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game last season for Indiana.

AFP

D’Tigress Reach Afrobasket Quarterfinals

Basketball: Hoopers Fans Get Parting Gift With Customs Victory

Nigeria’s D’Tigress have become the first team to qualify for quarterfinals of the FIBA Afrobasket following their 106-72 win over Egypt.

Evelyn Akhator led the Nigerian charge with 24 points and 13 rebounds as Sam Vincent’s side marched to their third straight win.

Jennifer Atonye posted another double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds while Ezinne Kalu and Sarah Ogoke added 18 and 13 points.

Nigeria’s next match is against Guinea on Tuesday, August the 22nd.

Curtain Falls On Savannah Conference Six Play-offs

Basketball: Hoopers Fans Get Parting Gift With Customs Victory

Hostilities in the Kwese Premier League Savannah Conference Six Play-offs ended today at the Indoor Hall of the Murtala Square Kaduna.

After playing four games each since the opening day of the championship, defending champions Kano Pillars remain the only unbeaten team. They won all their matches.

On Monday, Kano Pillars defeated Gombe Bulls 104-97, beat Kada Stars 91-58 on Tuesday and defeated Bauchi Net 85-44 on Thursday after the resumption of play following Wednesday’s rest day.

Against Niger Potters who had not lost any game before meeting the defending champions, Pillars continued their run and humiliated the Minna boys by 103-71 points.

So far, only Kada Stars are yet to win a game in the play-offs that will see four teams advance from the Savannah Conference to play four other teams in the Atlantic Conference next month in Kano. Kada lost their first game to Plateau Peaks 69-88, lost the second match 58-91 to Kano Pillars, third to Gombe Bulls 53-90 and yesterday narrowly to Bauchi Net 70-73.

Kada lost their first game to Plateau Peaks 69-88, lost the second match 58-91 to Kano Pillars, third to Gombe Bulls 53-90 and yesterday narrowly to Bauchi Net 70-73.

Gombe Bulls bounced back from two earlier loses to Kano Pillars 97-104 and 105-106 against Niger Potters to win two straight wins against Kada Stars 53-90 and Plateau Peaks 90-57.

They, however, have a must-win-game on Saturday against neighbours Bauchi Net to book a place in Final 8.

Bauchi Net have so far won only a game against the whipping team of the Conference, Kada Stars 73-70 and like Kada are also technically out of qualification after losing three games.

The race for qualification and classification is what has heightened confrontation within the last two days.

Kano Pillars, Niger Potters, Gombe Bulls and Plateau Peaks look good to scale through depending on the last games on Saturday particularly for Peaks and Bulls.

Meanwhile, the final games at the Conference will commence from 10am till 4pm to accommodate Conference champions line up in team jersey, remarks and presentation of trophy.

Saturday’s Fixtures

Gombe Bull vs Bauchi Net
Kano Pillars vs Plateau Peaks
Niger Potters vs Kada Stars