Christian Popoola Jr. was firing from all cylinders yesterday as he led team Pan Africa to its first win against China at Chicago, Illinois, venue of the 2015 Nike Global Challenge.
The 6’4 185Ibs point guard from Lone Peak High School had a game-high 25 points, scoring 8 of 19 field goal attempts and connecting 3 of 6 baskets from behind the arc. He got some of his points from the free throw line, shooting 60% on 10 trips to the stripe. Lil Pops, as he loves to be called, dished out 3 assists in the 30 minutes he spent on the court. His contribution to the win was not only on the offensive end as he grabbed 6 rebounds along with 2 steals.
Josh Okogie also held his own at the backcourt as he flirted with a double-double, scoring 22 points and pulling down 9 boards. The pugnacious defense of the 6’5 shooting guard also featured in the game as he got 2 steals and 2 blocks.
The 6’8 Jordan Nwora was another player on the team that scored in double figures with 15 buckets to go with 9 rebounds including 5 on the offensive boards. Despite struggling from the three-point arc going 0 for 5, Nwora’s inside game ensured he got a decent number of points from the free throw line, scoring 7 of 9 attempts at the stripe.
David Iwowari also put up a decent showing in the paint, grabbing 7 rebounds and swatting opponents shots to register 3 blocks for the team in addition to putting up 3 points on the score board.
The Pan African Team which consists of eight Nigerian players and three other Africans put up an exciting performance despite missing Azubuike Udoka, a 6’11 285-pound center with arguably one of the most refined post-moves in high school basketball across the United States.
Godwin Owinje, General Manager for the Pan African Team and President of Radar Hoops, told Basketball Within Borders that Azubuike has been sick for a few days which prevented him from playing at the Nike Challenge.
Despite good ball movement which saw it getting a team total 15 assists in comparison to the Pan African Team’s 7, the Chinese team lost mainly due to Pan African’s dominance on the boards (Pan Africa – 52 rbs; China – 41) and on the free throw line (Pan Africa – 18/29; China – 9/16).
The championship game which was initially meant to be held on July 19 has been rescheduled for today July 18.
Image credits: Radar Hoops; Nike Global