With only 18 days remaining until the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, Penn has one more athlete heading to London.
Koko Archibong, a College graduate from the Class of 2003, became the latest member of the Quakers’ family to punch his ticket to the Olympics when the Nigeria basketball team defeated the Dominican Republic, 88-73, to earn the final spot in the men’s tournament and its first ever appearance at the Olympics.
In helping Nigeria qualify, Archibong will be the first current or former men’s basketball player to ever compete at the Olympics.
The forward appeared in 99 games in his career as a Quaker and captained the team in 2002-03 along with Andy Toole. During his time at the Palestra he won three Ivy League titles and finished with 1,131 points and 504 rebounds. In his junior year he tied the school record by starting all 32 games.
Archibong currently plays for the Gießen LTi 46ers in Germany. In the 2011-12 season, he averaged 23.4 minutes and netted 8.7 points over 34 games.
Nigeria’s road to qualification began in the 2012 International Federation Basketball Olympic Qualifying Tournament, with the top three teams qualifying for the London 2012.
Drawn in a group along with Lithuania and Venezuela, Nigeria lost its opening game to Venezuela, 71-69.
Facing a must-win game against Lithuania, which sports Toronto Raptor’s forward Linas Keliza, Nigeria earned a six-point win and advanced to the quarterfinals with a higher scoring differential.
In the final eight, No. 21 Nigeria faced one of the world’s best teams, No. 4 Greece, and pulled off an improbable 80-79 upset, thanks in large part to Ade Dagunduro, who scored the team’s last seven points. As the final whistle sounded ,the Nigerians piled up on center court to celebrate the victory.
Although a win in the semifinals would have guaranteed the Nigerians a berth in the Olympics, D’Tigers lost to Russia before defeating the Dominican Republic in the third-place game.
“Well if you consider yourself to be a big-time player you got to relish those moments,” said Ike Diogu, Nigeria’s leading scorer during the tournament and seven-year NBA player, in an interview with FIBA after the game. “I said I’m going to be the one to put the team on our back, thank goodness the balls went in.”
Nigeria will be matched with the United States, Lithuania, Tunisia, France and Argentina during group play, which runs from July 29 to Aug. 6. If they finish in the top four, they will advance to the quarterfinals on Aug. 8.
“We’re going to try and place,” guard Derrick Obasohan told FIBA.