Africa de­feat

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - NJABULO NGIDI

THE ex­tra lug­gage that Vic­tor Oladipo re­turned to In­di­ana with has left him with no choice but to come back for the 2018 NBA Africa Game that is likely to be played in Nige­ria.

Oladipo was named MVP (Most Valu­able Player), which came with a big shiny tro­phy, in the ex­hi­bi­tion match be­tween Team Africa and Team World played at the Tick­etpro Dome on Satur­day. This was the sec­ond match of this na­ture played in Jo­han­nes­burg. Team Africa lost both those matches. But Oladipo, son of a Nige­rian mother and a fa­ther from Sierra Leone, put on a show to help Team Africa fight hard in their 108-97 loss.

“I have to come back. I have no choice. I have to come and de­fend this (the MVP tro­phy),” Oladipo said.

The next edi­tion would be an emo­tional af­fair for Oladipo, should Nige­ria get the nod as the NBA com­mis­sioner, Adam Sil­ver, re­vealed that this match will not be staged in South Africa next year as part of their plan to take it across the con­ti­nent. Nige­ria are strong favourites to host it with huge in­ter­est for the sport in Africa’s most pop­u­lous na­tion. That would give Oladipo an op­por­tu­nity to daz­zle in the coun­try of his mother’s, Joan Amanze Oladipo, birth.

“It means a lot to come here and play, es­pe­cially be­ing of Nige­rian des­cent,” Oladipo said. “It was awe­some. The fans played a huge part in the game. It was great to do stuff in front of them and show them a good time. To come here, im­pact lives and come back with a piece of sil­ver­ware means a lot for me. The high­light of my time was vis­it­ing the or­phan­age (SOS Chil­dren’s Vil­lage in En­nerdale). It was a great time and some­thing that I will al­ways re­mem­ber.”

The fans who packed the Dome will also re­mem­ber his flam­boy­ance that en­ter­tained the crowd to give them their monies’ worth. It was noth­ing new to Oladipo, whose game is char­ac­terised by his flashy moves and ath­leti­cism. Sub­con­sciously the drive to play like that could have been shaped by the de­sire to im­press his fa­ther, Dr Christo­pher Oladipo, who was never a fan of his son choos­ing bas­ket­ball. Oladipo se­nior hardly comes to watch his son in ac­tion. He has ar­gued that he does that so that he doesn’t put pres­sure on Vic­tor, say­ing that when he does come to watch him play he prefers to do so with­out his knowl­edge or him see­ing him. Re­gard­less of what the mo­ti­va­tion is, Oladipo is a marvel to watch on the court.

“I work re­ally hard on my game,” Oladipo said. “This is some­thing that I re­ally love to do. I work too hard not to be con­fi­dent in what I do. I just have to con­tinue build­ing on it.”

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