Michael Ojo

The Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) on Friday said the world has been robbed of an emerging basketball talent with the sudden passing of Michael Ojo, a former national team invitee, on Thursday.

“This is another flower that unexpectedly withered at 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,” the NBBF wrote in a tribute to the 27-year-old who reportedly slumped after training and died shortly afterward, citing an official release by his club, Crvena Zvezda of Serbia.

“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 NBBF’s tribute said.

According to Babs Ogunade, the vice president of the NBBF, the late Ojo was “such a calm and unassuming personality” who will be remembered for winning the 2019 Serbian Professional League with Crvena Zvezda.

“He was humble and hardworking,” Ogunade said in a personal tribute to the deceased basketball player.

Ojo was first invited to the Nigerian national team in 2011, for the FIBA Afrobasket. He was generally noted by Nigerians as a young man who gave a good account of himself.

His national team coach at the time Isah Umar said Ojo “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,” Umar said.

Before his death on Thursday, Ojo had featured in 108 games for his Serbian club. The NBBF noted that during the 2019-2020 season, Ojo appeared in 22 EuroLeague games with Crvena Zvezda, averaging 4.1 points and three rebounds per game.

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