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Basketball: Former national team captain Ademola Okulaja dies at the age of 46


"We are shaken": Ademola Okulaja, the longtime captain of the German national basketball team, died unexpectedly at the age of 46. Teammates, fans and representatives of the sport express their dismay.

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German basketball mourns him: Former national team captain Ademola Okulaja died at the age of 46

Photo: © Victor Fraile / Reuters/ REUTERS

Grief and dismay in German basketball: the longtime national team captain Ademola Okulaja died in Berlin at the age of 46.

This was announced by the German Basketball Federation (DBB) on Tuesday evening.

There is no information on the cause of death so far.

“We are devastated and cannot believe Ademola's death.

Our thoughts are now with his family, who we wish a lot of strength," said DBB President Ingo Weiss: "Ademola was a great player as well as a person.

Personally, I've lost a great basketball friend and will miss him dearly."

Okulaja, known as "The Warrior" (the fighter), was one of the most influential faces in German basketball and the emotional leader of the national team for years.

The native Nigerian made his debut in the jersey with the eagle in May 1995 in Weert, the Netherlands.

His greatest success was winning the bronze medal at the 2002 World Championships in the USA alongside superstar Dirk Nowitzki.

In all, Okulaja, who recovered from cancer diagnosed in 2008, won 172 international matches and captained the team for several years.

September marks the 20th anniversary of Indianapolis' bronze win.

In the Bundesliga, Okulaja played for Alba Berlin, Rhein Energie Köln and Brose Baskets Bamberg (now Brose Bamberg).

The power forward, who after four years at US college was also active at numerous top European clubs such as FC Barcelona, ​​won the Korac Cup (1995) and the championship (2000) with the Berliners.

Tumor fractured the seventh thoracic vertebra

After persistent back problems, Okulaja had missed the Olympic qualifying tournament in Athens and Beijing 2008.

A little later it turned out that a tumor had caused a fracture of the seventh thoracic vertebra – paralysis threatened.

"I was very lucky in my misfortune," said the winger later, he did not return to the field.

Bamberg separated from Okulaja in the summer of 2009 despite the current contract. A year later he announced the end of his career and later looked after NBA professional Dennis Schröder as manager, among others.

Okulaja played his last international match in September 2007.

Okulaja scored 1794 points in the national jersey and played at six European Championships.

»We will always fondly remember the fighting and never giving up Ademola, who always left everything on the field.

May he rest in peace,” Weiss said.

"Much too early... Take care up there!" Brose Bamberg tweeted in response to the bad news.

FC Bayern also mourned: "Rest in peace, warrior!"


Source: spiegel

All sports articles on 2022-05-17

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