Al-Farouq Aminu on returning for Nigeria, and that Super Eagles non-handball

JOHANNESBURG -- Portland Trailblazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu has stated his intention to play for Nigeria at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers in September.

Aminu, who is in South Africa for the Basketball without Borders and NBA Africa week in Johannesburg, played for the Nigerian national team at the 2012 Olympics, but has not featured for D'Tigers since 2015.

That year Nigeria won the AfroBasket title, and Aminu, who has missed international action since then due to his NBA commitments with Portland, is looking forward to a return to the green and white next month.

The US-born dual citizen told KweséESPN: "The tournament is in September, and I just talked to my team-mates, we have a Whats App group chat, and I realised there was a need for me to play.

"And they're playing in Nigeria so it needed to be done."

As for why he chose to represent Nigeria instead of the US, Aminu opted for the land of his father for emotional reasons, adding: "It's had a bigger impact.

"Not to say the US can't use help or whatever, but basketball-wise, to be able to grow the game... Things like BwB opened my eyes to the needs of the continent when it comes to the sport, so it was an easy decision for me to play for the Nigerian national team."

It's not only hoops that keep Aminu's attention on Nigeria though, as he was an avid watcher of the Super Eagles' efforts at the World Cup in Russia recently, down to the controversial handball VAR decision against Argentina.

Getting slightly animated, Aminu had a strong opinion about the VAR decision that seemingly denied Nigeria a penalty, saying: "I was devastated that they didn't give us the handball.

"Even after they reviewed... I didn't realise that they were even reviewing it, and after they started reviewing they still didn't give us the handball."

He went on to reference the strong African roots of eventual winners France, adding: "It was a great tournament, and I was super excited that France won, especially with the group of players they won with.

"It was a beautiful way for the World Cup to end, if Nigeria didn't win."

The D'Tigers are in action from 14 to 16 September in Lagos, where they will face Senegal, the Ivory Coast, and the Central African Republic.