Coach of Nigeria’s national men’s basketball team, Alex Nwora has said it would have been “a dishonour” if he hadn’t selected son Jordan who “Nigeria needs” in D’Tigers final squad for the 2019 FIBA Men’s Basketball World Cup.
Nwora revealed D’Tigers final roster on Tuesday, 27 August with 20-year old Jordan making the cut ahead of established veterans Aminu Alade, Ike Nwamu and Akindele Ayodeji.
Speculation had been rife about who would be chopped from the 15-man squad that travelled to China for the Peak Invitational tournament which D’Tigers won.
Many had speculated that the Jordan might be one of the three players to make way but the coach said he never contemplated the possibility of axing his son because “Nigeria needs him”.
“For somebody who wants to represent his Fatherland, it would be a dishonour for me to hide my son from Nigerians when I know he can help us,” Nwora said.
“It [was always] going to be difficult for me to drop him, I don’t have anybody that shoots the way he shoots. Nigeria needs him,” Nwora who led D’Tigers to become the first team to qualify for the World Cup said.
Jordan who plays for college side the Louisville Cardinals in the NCCA and narrowly missed out being drafted by an NBA team last year, made his debut for D’Tigers last year against Uganda in the World Cup qualifiers – the first time a Father-Son combo would be representing Nigeria in any sport.
However, the 6’8 player truly announced himself to the Nigerian public when he scored 36 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out four assists and added four steals in what was only his third game for the national team which came against Mali.
His points total in that game shattered D’Tigers record for the most points scored for Nigeria in an international game in a major competition which was held previously by Chamberlain Oguchi who finished with a game-high 35 points in a 79-73 defeat to France at 2012 London Olympics.
And, by the end of the three-day Group B showdown in Lagos, Jordan finished with team-highs 21.7 points and eight rebounds per game and averaged 2.7 assists for good measure.
Coach Nwora said with a talented player at his disposal, deliberately ignoring him just because they share a father-son relationship would have been “naive”.
He pointed to Jordan’s role as a starter in all his games for the national side as confirmation of his son’s importance to the team.
“He started for me in every game he has played so, for me to drop him means something very definitely went wrong along the way and he’s not supposed to be here,” Nwora said.
“But if he’s one of those elite kids that we need to help us win just because he’s my son then somebody is definitely naive enough or not smart enough to know talent when they see one,” Nwora said of the player who averaged 17.2 PPG, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists for his college team last season where he was voted the second most improved player in the NCAA and the most improved in the ACC.
Nwora added: “It doesn’t make sense that just because he’s my son and he’s one of the best shooters that we have I’m going to drop him because of what people are saying that means I want to shoot myself in the foot; I don’t want to win.
“[But] I want to win just like every coach and I have one of the best shooters available and he’s a Nigerian, he’s my son he’s going to be on my team. He has started every game and he has proven that he belongs here and he’s one of the elites. He holds our scoring record!”
For would-be accusers who would point to his decision to select his son, as evidence of his nepotism, Nwora said he only cares about giving Nigeria the best chance possible to win even if it means selecting his son for the national team.
“People will say what they want to say, sometimes it’s going to happen with people who have different agenda,” Nwora said.
“But my agenda is: I’m a Nigerian for life and I’m going to make sure that what helps Nigeria I’m going to do it if it’s my son he’s going to be part of it.”