Former Arizona State star Ike Diogu poured in a game high 21 points for Nigeria in their 83-77 loss to the Democratic Republic of Congo at the 2017 FIBA AfroBasket in Tunis.
It was a shocking loss for Nigeria, the tournament favorite and defending AfroBasket champs.
“Honestly, I must say that the FIBA Afrobasket Championship has come of age and will continue to get better so all sixteen teams have equal chances of winning it,” Nigeria told fiba.com of the increasing level of competition in Africa. “We are not deterred by our loss to RD Congo, but will only use it as a wake-up call that the championship is getting tougher as we await whoever comes our way in the quarterfinal.”
Diogu, a 6-8, 255-pound forward, sank 4 threes, while shooting a blistering 80 percent (4-of-5) from behind the arc and 55 percent (6-of-11) overall from the field.
He also had 7 rebounds and a block in the tough loss.
For Congo, Evariste Shonganya poured in 20 points, while Myck Kabongo added 17 points and 8 assists in the huge win.
“Beating the defending champion Nigeria might be surprising to many but our belief is that every game counts and we are ready for any opposition in the quarterfinal,” said Kabongo.
But the top point-getter in the game for both teams was Nigeria’s Diogu, who leads the 2017 FIBA AfroBasket in scoring, averaging 22.3 points on 62 percent shooting from three.
Diogu comes from the Chinese Basketball Association, where he averaged 25 points and 11.1 rebounds this season for Jiangsu Tongxi.
He represented Nigeria at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, where he averaged 12 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks.
In 2015-16 Diogu also played in China, averaging 20.3 points and 9.4 rebounds for the Guangdong Southern Tigers and leading the team to the CBA semifinals alongside teammate and former NBA player Yi Jianlian.
In 2013-14, Diogu was named the D-League Impact Player of the Year when he averaged 18.6 points and 9.8 rebounds for the Bakersfield Jam.
A college star at Arizona State, Diogu became the first player ever to lead the Pac-10 in scoring (22.6 ppg.), rebounding (9.8 rpg.), and blocks (2.34 bpg.) as a junior in 2004-2005.
He also was fifth in the nation in scoring that season and was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year.
The 9th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft by Golden State, Diogu has averaged 6 points and 3.1 rebounds in six NBA seasons with the Warriors, Pacers, Blazers, Kings, Clippers and Spurs.
ESPN’s No. 21 ranked recruit in the 2002 high school class, Diogu averaged 23, points, 12 rebounds, and 4.5 blocks on 78 percent field goal shooting to lead Garland HS (TX) to the state Class 5A regional quarterfinals.
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