NIGERIA : Efevberha's Olympic dream
HOLLYWOOD (Afrobasket 2011) – Nigeria have played at FIBA World Championships but they have yet to appear at an Olympic Games.
National team captain Mike Efevberha is desperate for this to change.
The 26-year-old was born in California but has dual citizenship thanks to his Nigerian father.
To make it to the London Games wouldn’t just be special for the player, he says, but his dad,
“Playing in the Olympics for Nigeria would definitely put a big smile on my father's face,” Efevberha said to FIBA.com.
“Playing for Nigeria already makes my dad feel great, but now if he got the opportunity to see me in the Olympic games, it would probably blow his mind.
“He is so proud of me for all that I have accomplished with basketball so far.
“Making it to the Olympics would just be the icing on the cake for him.”
Efevberha's first appearance for Nigeria came at the Afrobasket in Libya two years ago and it was an impressive debut.
He averaged 17.4 points per game and Nigeria looked as if they were on their way to a place at the 2010 FIBA World Championship, but an 84-80 setback to Cameroon in the Quarter-Finals ended their hopes of playing in Turkey.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Efevberha, who had 24 points in that defeat.
Ahead of Nigeria’s preparations for Afrobasket 2011, the objective is clear.
“Our goal is the same as everyone else’s, which is to win the African Cup and be a part of the 2012 Olympics in London,” Efevberha said.
In 2007, Nigeria won five of their six games at the Afrobasket but missed out on the Beijing Games.
“Things are different now,” Efevberha said.
“I can’t believe that Nigeria has never made it to the Olympics.
“We have so much talent from what I can tell, but hopefully we can pull it together this summer and qualify.
“Playing in the Olympics has always been a dream of mine, and I am just happy I get the opportunity to try and help Nigeria make it there.”
Nigeria will take on hosts Madagascar, Mozambique and Mali in Group A of the Afrobasket.
“I can’t wait to get out there and start competing,” Efevberha said.
“Our first group for the tournament will be tough, but I think every round will just get tougher and tougher.”
A good showing this summer for Efevberha would enhance his chances of finding a good job for next season.
Last season certainly went according to plan as he helped Lugano Tigers win a Swiss Cup, Lega Cup and Swiss Championship treble.
“This season was great,” he said.
“My team competed very hard all season long, and I am very proud of everyone.”