Nigeria basketball in deep mourning for Ojo

In Nigeria Friday became a day of deep sadness as tributes flowed in from members of the Nigeria basketball family after receiving the sad news of the sudden death of Michael Olalekan Ojo.

An official release by his club, Crvena Zvezda of Serbia, stated that Ojo slumped after training and died shortly afterward.

Leading the tribute is the Nigeria Basketball Federation President, Musa Kida who bemoaned the death at such a tender of 27.

He said, “This is another flower that unexpectedly withered at such a time it was expected to start blossoming.

“After a sterling College career in the United States of America 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.”     

The federation’s Vice President, Babs Ogunade said, “I met with him in February at the FIBA Women’s Olympic qualifying tournament in Serbia. I watched his match against Partizan Basketball. He was such a calm and unassuming personality.”

Another NBBF member Isah Umah described the late centre, who won the 2019 Serbian Professional League with Crvena as humble and hard working.

Umar who was D’Tigers Team Manager when the team was preparing for the 2011 FIBA Afrobasket when Ojo was invited to the national team revealed 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.”

During the 2019/20 season, Ojo appeared in 22 EuroLeague games with Crvena zvezda, averaging 4.1 points and 3 rebounds per game while appearing in about 108 games for his club before his untimely demise as teams were preparing for life after the Covid-19 global lockdown.