Emma-Nnopu firing Oz dreams

Last Updated 31 October 2018, 17:12 IST

Nnenna Agnes Emma-Nnopu is a formidable force for Australia in under-18 women’s basketball. The youngster’s ability to adapt her style to suit the game’s requirement has been crucial to the side’s success in the last one year.

A lively athlete, Emma-Nnopu is of African descent. She was four years old when her parents moved to Tasmania in Australia from Nigeria in 2005, before settling down in Victoria.

Three years later, she picked up the sport to make friends. “I started playing locally just for fun to make friends and I found that I really enjoyed the game,” said Emma-Nnopu, who is competing in the FIBA Asia Under-18 tournament here.

“I was under-14 when I figured I really like the sport so I decided to pursue it and I played for a representative team in Victoria,” she added.

The forward was with Geelong Supercats before shifting allegiance to Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence in the South Eastern Australia Basketball League (SEABL). The move helped her iron out the chinks in her game.

“I moved to the Centre of Excellence in Australia at the start of this year. I feel like from the start of this year till now, my shooting and ball-handling have definitely improved and my awareness of the game has improved as well,” said the 17-year-old.

Emma-Nnopu was the star performer of the team that edged Japan in the final of the FIBA under-16 Women’s Asia Championship here last year.

“Coming to India last year was a really pivotal moment of my life,” said Emma-Nnopu, who helped Australia secure the third spot at the FIBA under-17 World Cup in Belarus in July this year.

The 6’0” player hopes to represent the senior women’s team -- the Opals -- in future. But for now, she is just focused on getting into a college. “Right now, the objective is to get to college first and then come back to play for WNBL or WNBA or Euro League and hopefully, sometime in the future, play for the Opals (Australian Women’s National team),” she remarked.

Australian coach Deanne Butler was pleased to have a player of such calibre in the squad. “She is coming from a level where she is used to being the forward player. Here she has had to move towards perimetre a lot more. She has been showing some great athleticism there,” Butler said.

(Published 31 October 2018, 17:10 IST)

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