Ugboaja ready to help Nigeria at FIBA AfroBasket 2017
It's been five years since Ejike Ugboaja last played for Nigeria, but the London 2012 Olympian feels he can still contribute for the reigning African champions.
And, to remind everyone of his abilities, the 31-year-old forward points to his display at last month's FIBA Africa Champions Cup in Cairo as proof that he could be helpful for the FIBA AfroBasket 2017.
"Nigeria remains the country I owe my allegiance and I will play for her any time any day given the right conditions." - Ugboaja
Playing for Nigerian champions Kano Pillars in FIBA Africa's elite club competition, Ugboaja averaged 11.3 points and 5.4 rebounds.
Against eight-time African champions Primeiro D'Agosto - a team formed by a number of players Ugboaja has faced several times during his international career - the Nigerian had his best performance, finishing with 17 points as Kano Pillars upset D'Agosto 83-79.
"For the records, my joining Kano Pillars for the FIBA African Champions Cup in Egypt was to evaluate myself and I want to believe that those who saw me in action know I gave a good account of myself," he told FIBA.com.
With Nigeria already qualified for FIBA AfroBasket 2017 in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo - by virtue of winning the competition two years ago - Ugboaja would welcome a call-up.
"Yes I left the national team D' Tigers but it was for personal reasons and that is not to say that I won't be back," he explained. "Nigeria remains the country I owe my allegiance and I will play for her any time any day given the right conditions."
Ugboaja, who also runs the Ejike Ugboaja Foundation helping Nigerian kids to realise their dreams of studying and playing basketball says he will work harder to keep the flag flying.
"Not every basketball player will end up playing in the NBA but through the Foundation, getting an education through basketball is a fulfilment of my dream," said the 31-year-old "I never had that kind of opportunity but providing it now makes me happy because, with education, these players can study to be useful to society."