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Basketball World Reacts To The Nneka Ogwumike News

Five-time WNBA All Star and former league MVP Nneka Ogwumike hoped to represent her home country of Nigeria in this year’s Olympic Games. But, according to reports from ESPN on Wednesday, the basketball star’s petition to join the Nigerian roster has been denied by FIBA, citing “substantial involvement” of more than 10 years with Team USA.

For the most part, if a player has participated in a FIBA-sanctioned event after their 17th birthday, they are no longer allowed to participate in a FIBA event with a different team. But, according to further FIBA regulations, a player can be authorized to play for a different national team if his or her country of origin is experiencing an influx of basketball interest — placing an emphasis on the expansion of appeal for women’s basketball across the globe.

The last time Ogwumike played for Team USA was during the World Cup in 2018. After operating under the assumption that she would make the U.S. roster in 2021, she was snubbed yet again before this summer’s games. The Los Angeles Sparks star also failed to make the U.S. Olympic roster in 2012 and 2016.

Turning this disappointment into a blessing in disguise, she hoped to join her sisters, Chiney and Erica, on the Nigerian roster.

“It’s something I know my family would be very proud of. I’m hoping it will contribute to the growth we’re experiencing for Africa in basketball,” Nneka told ESPN before her petition was denied.

The basketball world took to Twitter to react to this news:

Ogwumike still isn’t giving up on the her Olympic dreams just yet though. According to ESPN, she’s exhausting all remaining options, including a possible application to the Court of Arbitration in Sport.

The Nigerian Basketball Federation has also filed an appeal to FIBA on behalf of Ogwumike and Atlanta Dream center Elizabeth Williams, who was also denied because of her previous involvement with Team USA.

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