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Nigeria men's and women's national basketball teams tune-up for upcoming championships at Gallaudet University

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Nigeria men’s and women’s national basketball teams are holding court this weekend at Gallaudet University in preparations for upcoming championships. The men’s team is holding a tryout for the final spots on the national team that will compete at the 2011 All-Africa Games that will be held September 3-18 in Maputo, Mozambique. The women’s national Under-19 team is preparing for the 2011 FIBA U19 Championship for Women that will take place July 21-31 in Puerto Monte, Chile. The training camps will run through June 14 at the Field House.

Gallaudet University women’s basketball coach Kevin Cook is serving as an adviser to the Nigeria women’s team after he was the head coach in 2007 and led the squad to the silver medal with a 7-1 record at the last All-Africa Games in Algiers, Algeria. He was also the head coach for the Nigeria women’s team in 2006 when the team competed in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at the World Championships.

“This is a great opportunity to spotlight Gallaudet University to these bright and talented basketball players from across the United States that came here to represent their home country,” said Cook. “It is a great honor to continue to work with the Nigeria basketball program.”

The women’s team will travel to France for several warm-up matches against China, Brazil and France between June 17-26. Adewumi Aderemi is the head coach of the first-ever U-19 team for Nigeria after he led the U-18 team to a second place finish at the 2010 FIBA Africa Championships held in Cairo, Egypt. Nigeria is in Group C for the 2011 FIBA U19 Championship for Women along with Australia, France and the host country Chile.

The women’s team is made up of Promise Amukumara (Arizona State), Peace Amukumara (Apollo High School, Glendale Arizona), Loliya Briggs (University of Pittsburgh), Adesuwa Izoehelegee Ebomwonya (Tulane University), Ezine Kalu (Savannah State University), Afure Jemerigbe (University of California), Elo Eldema (Mount Zion Christian Academy, NC), Sarah Imovbioh (University of Virginia), Sandra Udobi (Life Center Academy), Ijeoma Uchendu (Grayson County College), Uju Ugoka (Grayson County College) and Elem Ibiam (University of South Carolina).

The Nigeria men’s team is led by head coach John Lucas, the former NBA player that played 14 years from 1976-90. He was the first player taken in the NBA draft by the Houston Rockets in 1976 becoming the first-ever point guard to be drafted No. 1 overall. The University of Maryland graduate, was an All-American in basketball and tennis as a Terrapin. He later received his master’s degree from the University of San Francisco. Lucas played for the U.S. National Basketball team in the 1974 FIBA World Championships, winning the bronze medal.

Denver Nuggets Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri visited with the players on Friday morning. Ujiri is a native of Nigeria and is well connected in the international basketball scene. He has managed and coached the Nigerian junior and senior national teams over the years. The tryout participants will also receive a visit from Nigerian Basketball Federation President Tijjani Umar on Saturday.

New Jersey Nets guard Ben Uzoh highlights the men’s tryout participants along with University of Connecticut center Charles Okwandu and Columbia College guard Noruwa Agho. Okwandu was a senior this past season for UConn as they won the national championship with a 53-41 victory over Butler.

The practices at the Field House are closed to the public.

About the All-Africa Games
The All-Africa Games is a multi-sports event that occurs every four years, exclusively for the athletes of the African continent. The Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa organizes it. The first Games took place in 1965 in Brazzaville, Congo, and have official recognition from the International Olympic Committee as a continental multi-sport event like the Pan American Games and Asian Games. When the Games are played at Maputo, Mozambique, it will mark only the third time the Games will be held in the southern part of the continent. For more information please visit www.allafricagamesmaputo.com.

About the FIBA U19 World Championships
The world's outstanding female basketball talent will meet this summer in Puerto Monte in the beautiful country of Chile for the 9th edition of FIBA U19 World Championship for Women. The best players aged 19 years and younger from sixteen countries and five continents will compete for the most prestigious basketball title in this age category. The first FIBA U19 World Championship for Women was played in 1985 in Colorado Springs, USA, and has been organized 7 times since. The USA are leading the role of honor with 3 gold medals, whilst the former Soviet Union won the title twice and Australia and the Czech Republic could claim the title once. For more information please visit www.chile2011.fiba.com.

Nigeria Men's and Women's Basketball Training Camp

Photos courtesy of Sam Atkinson, Gallaudet SID

Gallaudet coach Kevin Cook gives out instructions to the players
Gallaudet women's basketball coach Kevin Cook gives instruction to the Nigeria U-19 women's team

Elem Ibiam makes a layup
Nigeria's Elem Ibiam makes a layup during Friday's practice

Ezine Kalu guards Sandra Udobi in practice
 
Ezine Kalu guards Sandra Udobi during Friday's afternoon practice

Nigeria coach John Lucas with Gallaudet women's basketball coach Kevin Cook
Nigeria men's basketball coach John Lucas with Gallaudet University women's basketball coach Kevin Cook

Ben Uzoh makes a pass during practice
Ben Uzoh makes a pass during a shooting drill on Friday at Gallaudet University

Gallaudet University men's basketball coach Jeb Barber with Nigeria men's coach John Lucas
Gallaudet University men's basketball coach Jeb Barber with Nigeria head coach John Lucas