The Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), on Friday paid tributes to basketball player and former D’Tigers invitee, Michael Olalekan-Ojo who died on Thursday.
The NBBF spokesman, Afolabi Oni in a statement in Lagos said that the 27-year old, reportedly slumped after training and died shortly afterward, according to an official release by his club, Crvena Zvezda of Serbia.
Oni said that NBBF President, Mr Musa Kida led the tributes to bemoan the sudden demise of the basketball player.
“This is another flower that unexpectedly withered at such a time it was expected to start blossoming after a sterling College career in the U.S. and after securing a professional deal in Belgrade.
“It is so sad that the basketball world has been robbed of this emerging talent who has been described as one of the tallest to play basketball in Serbia,” Kida said.
The Federation’s Vice President, Babs Ogunade said, “I met with him in February at the FIBA Women’ Olympic qualifying tournament in Serbia.
“I watched his match against Partizan Basketball. He was such a calm and unassuming personality,” he said.
Also, Isah Umah, North Central Representative on the board, described the Olalekan-Ojo, who won the 2019 Serbian Professional League with Crvena, as humble and hard working.
Umar, a former D’Tigers Team Manager during preparation for the 2011 FIBA Afrobasket, when Ojo was invited to the national team, noted that he was a true Nigerian who bled green and white.
“He was excited to be part of team Nigeria and gave his best at such a young age.
“He did not make the final cut, but he was excited to have a chance to play for his fatherland,” he said.
Oni said that during the 2019–20 season, Ojo appeared in 22 EuroLeague games with Crvena zvezda, averaging 4.1 points and three rebounds per game.
“He had appeared in about 108 games for his club before his untimely demise as teams were preparing for life after the COVID-19 global lockdown.
“The federation prayed to God to comfort his family, friends, close associates and the entire basketball family as they come to terms with this heart-breaking news,” he said.