The Pelican Blog

Aminu playing for Nigeria for second straight summer

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

aminu_in_pelicans_shirt_248x250.jpgOther than the obvious, there was one specific reason Al-Farouq Aminu was pleased to be able to sign a free-agent contract with the New Orleans Pelicans on July 10, the earliest possible date he could do so. As a result of the rapid re-signing, it paved the way for Aminu to compete for the Nigeria men’s basketball team this summer. He’d initially been concerned that amid unrestricted free agency, the potential for injury would prevent him from playing international basketball.

After participating in the 2012 London Olympics a year ago, the 6-foot-9 small forward is one of Nigeria’s key players at the ongoing FIBA Africa Championships in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Aminu and Nigeria debuted in the 16-team tournament Wednesday, defeating Mali by a 74-59 margin. The three-year NBA veteran finished with a double-double, registering 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Each team’s objective at the FIBA Africa Championships is to qualify for the 2014 Basketball World Cup, which will be held in Spain. Aminu, who is joined on the Nigerian national team by his brother Alade Aminu and former NBA power forward Ike Diogu, will be back in action Friday vs. Congo as pool play continues. Tip-off is 5:30 p.m. local time (12:30 p.m. in New Orleans). All 16 teams will participate in the tournament’s single-elimination knockout round, which begins Monday.