08 November 2012

NIGERIA : Get ready for take-off

Al-Farouq Aminu (Nigeria)
NEW ORLEANS (Afrobasket/FIBA Basketball World Cup) - It wouldn't be wrong to describe Al-Farouq Aminu as the most exciting of all the players at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament this summer in Caracas, Venezuela, where he helped Nigeria clinch a spot at the London Games.
The 2.06m Aminu averaged 13.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1 steal.
He is such a gifted athlete that Aminu often made tough plays look easy, and ordinary plays look amazing.
Aminu was also a compelling figure at the Olympics, a high-flier who soared through the air to dunk on fastbreaks.
He also swatted plenty of shots and came up with steals.
The Nigerians only won once at the Summer Games, beating Tunisia in their opening clash, but with Aminu on the floor they thrilled every time out.
This is a team to keep an eye on for the next couple of years.
If they play well against at Afrobasket 2013 and clinch a spot at the FIBA Basketball World Cup, all eyes will once again be on the electric Aminu.
There are a lot of people keeping tabs on him now in the NBA, where is a member of a New Orleans Hornets side that looks to have every chance of a top-eight finish to clinch a spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
In their 99-95 defeat at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, the 22-year-old was downright spectacular as he sailed through the air and slammed the ball home on five occasions.
In that same game, which was the Hornets' season-opener, Aminu had three blocks and two steals.
"When he defends like that and gets out on the break, I don’t know of anybody better in the league outside of LeBron (James) who can really flat out fly, maybe (Nicolas) Batum up in Portland," Hornets coach Monte Williams said of Aminu.
"The way he played, if he puts games together like that, we’ll be pleased."
Aminu has done well in the Hornets other two games, which were victories over Utah and Chicago.
He is averaging 13.3 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and 1.7 blocks.
Entering the season, Williams told Aminu that he wanted him to attack the basket with reckless abandon, the way he does in practice.
The message has gotten through to his young star.
"I want to do it consistently," Aminu said.
"That's what determines your career, that you can do it consistently, night in and night out.
"I've talked to Coach what he wants from me and he wants me attacking the rim because of my athleticism.
"Going to the rim is not always the greatest thing to do all the time...
"The more and more I play with this team, I can figure out how I can be most effective."

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