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25 August
10 September, 2023
33 Jordan Nwora (NGR)
13/04/2022
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Nigeria's Jordan Nwora: ''I dream about making my people proud''

MILWAUKEE (USA) - Nigeria revved up the enthusiasm and excitement around their national team with an historic upset of the USA in a pre-Olympic friendly in Las Vegas last summer.

D'Tigers, who had fallen in a record defeat to the Americans at the 2012 Olympics,156-73, raised expectations with a 90-87 triumph at Mandalay Bay Arena. Yet at the Tokyo Games, they fell to Australia (84-67), Germany (99-92) and Italy (80-71) and came up short of the Quarter-Finals.

The Nigerians were the best 3-point shooting team in Tokyo at 39.% (35 of 88), yet their average of 76.7 points per game was second lowest in the competition, with only Iran (68.7 points per game) worse.

The African giants were first in steals (11.0 steals per game) and second in blocks (4.7 blocks per game) yet had the worst turnover rate of all 12 teams, an alarming 20.3 per game.

Jordan Nwora, a guard with the Milwaukee Bucks who made his Olympic bow with Nigeria in Japan, was as impressive as any of the players in the team. He was its leading scorer at 21 points per game, and he drilled 12 of his 25 (48 percent) attempts from behind the 3-point line.



Nwora say fans of D'Tigers must not lose faith in Nigeria. 

What did you learn from last year’s experience of not only going to the Olympics but also going through the whole process of going to compete in Tokyo 2020?

I did learn a lot, so much that it is hard to really list everything. It was one of the most amazing learning experiences in my young life so far. I am so proud to have been part of that campaign. We were able to work hard and build a very solid team, and we did grow a lot as players, but also as a team, despite not reaching the goal we had set before the beginning of the tournament. It's always a blessing to be able to compete against the best teams in the world, and to be playing at FIBA level, which makes you adjust to a bit of a different way of playing basketball. It's always something that I enjoy doing, and I am looking forward to the next competitions to come. Sharing times with guys like Chimezie Metu, Josh Okogie and everyone on the team and the staff made me grow a lot as a player, that's for sure.

Nigeria confidence grew thanks to some performances in friendly games prior to the Olympics, including the win over Team USA …

Yes, we gained confidence but mostly experience, too, because at this level, most of the guys of the (other) national teams have been playing together for a while now, so their chemistry is usually ahead of ours, as we have a lot of young guys and many new players on the roster last year. Winning that game against Team USA was a big moment, we can't deny it, and we have been building our confidence in games like this, but we have to keep working and win these games in competitions. I know that it will come, our time will come, that is for sure. We are putting all the pieces together and getting the hard work done in order to reach our full potential.

“PLAYING A WORLD CUP … WE WANT TO WIN GAMES, AND WE WILL BE AMBITIOUS."

 

Reflecting on the results of games in Tokyo against Australia, Germany and Italy, it must be a little deflating?

Yes, that was frustrating and disappointing because we had had hopes coming into the tournament and we didn't reach our goal, which was getting a medal. But as I say, you live and you learn, and we lost against very good teams, with a lot of experience and we are going to learn from this. We are still a young team, and for sure our confidence was high before the tournament, but playing in a competition is also different than playing friendly games. The level of pressure is different and those games have a very short margin for mistakes in order to win. We will learn and come back better, both as players and as a team.

Speaking of room for improvement, how do you feel about the next couple of years for the D'Tigers?

We have a lot of room for improvement, and the coming challenges are very exciting for sure. We are very young, and the group still has to find its best chemistry on the court. But I know that we will reach our highest level soon, because we all want to and we work hard every day for this. We are proud to represent the country, to make our people proud, and we want to put Nigeria among the best teams in the world. We haven't had a full roster, and many guys haven't played for the national team yet, so I think that the best is yet to come. The coming years are very, very exciting, and I am very much looking forward to next year and the ones ahead.

Next year is the FIBA Basketball World Cup, to be staged in Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines ….

Yes, and we want to go there and keep showing our improvement. It's a very important competition, even more so knowing that the year after, it's the Olympics. We will have to have a good run in 2023 and punch our ticket for Paris 2024. Playing a World Cup is a perfect competition to improve, because you play against teams that you aren't used to playing against, and it's important to test ourselves, to see how much we have been improving by competing on the highest stage. We want to win games, and we will be ambitious.

Do you have any thoughts about the next Olympics if Nigeria qualifies?

We want to be at the next Olympics, too, there are no doubts about that. In order to keep improving and be on the highest stage, you have to qualify for every single big tournament, and both the FIBA Basketball World Cup and the Olympics are very important for us. We want to keep showing that we are the best team on the continent, and also prove to the world that Nigerian basketball will become a powerhouse, because we have all the ingredients to do so. That is our dream, and we are going to do everything to reach it. Our future is bright. Once we get our full team, down the line, we are going to be very, very good.

What are your dreams with the green jersey on your shoulders?

To win medals and titles, as simple as that (smile)! I dream about making my people proud, the whole country, and make Nigeria one of the best teams in the world. We work hard for this and we have a lot or motivation and talent to do so. We just have to keep working hard and show growth year after year. We know that we will reach the highest level of world basketball."

FIBA