While some athletes like the United States basketball teams come to the Olympics expecting to win gold, many others arrive just happy to represent their country and the opportunity to try their best.
That would be the case with former UTA basketball player Derrick Obasahon, who is currently in London as part of the first Nigerian basketball team to ever make it to the grand stage of the Olympics.
Nigeria qualified for the Olympics on July 8, beating the Dominican Republic 88-73. Obasahon scored 11 points in that game.
“I can’t wait to take it all in,” Obasohan said shortly after his team qualified. “Not only for me but for my family, my mom gets to call back and tell my family that I am an Olympian that is going to be representing Nigeria.”
It definitely will be a tough task for the Nigerians in London, as they are in Group A of the preliminary round that includes the USA and its stock of NBA stars. The group also includes Argentina (which has three NBA players), France (led by the San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker), Tunisia and Lithuania.
For what it’s worth, Obasahon appears to look forward to the challenge.
“Playing in the same group as the United States and being a starting point guard it means that I am going to get to defend players like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. I will get to play alongside some of the best players in the world.”
And his team is off to a good start, getting a 60-56 win over Tunisia in its first Olympic game. Obasahon scored six points.
Obasahon wore UTA’s uniform from 2000 to 2004 and was a part of the first Southland Conference championship team in the program’s history.
“It’s amazing,” said UTA head coach Scott Cross, who was an assistant at the school when Obasahon was playing there. “I think it’s a tremendous honor for him. To have him competing for a medal in the Olympics and representing his country just shows that we do have big time college athletes playing in our basketball program.”
Obasahon is the 11th UTA product to take part in the Olympics and one of two Mavericks to reach these Olympic Games. Jared Connaughton will represent the Canadian track team for the second time after competing in Beijing in 2008.
Two UTA products have won Olympic gold in the school’s history. Swimmer Doug Russell won the 100 meter butterfly and the 4X100 medley relay at the 1968 Mexico City Games. Lanny Bassham won gold at the 1972 Munich Games in the 50-meter three-position rifle competition.