Nigeria forward Ike Diogu has won his first professional basketball title after helping Guangdong Southern Tigers recapture the league crown in China on Friday.
Diogu, who joined Guangdong after a short stint with another CBA team, Xinjiang, last year, hadn’t won a pro title since graduating from high school in Garland, Texas, in 2002.
The CBA championship came as a form of justification for an eight-year pro career which began when he was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in 2005.
“It’s really important. This is my first championship aside from high school,” Diogu told China Daily after Guangdong thrashed Shandong, 94-74, on Friday.
“I never went to the playoffs when I was in the NBA. So winning the championship and being the first team to go undefeated in the playoffs is a really big deal. I am just really happy.”
Diogu’s excitement was blatantly obvious as the 29-year-old showed off his champion’s gold medal to all and sundry at the airport and even posted a photo of himself showing flight attendants on the plane heading back to Guangdong.
Standing at 2.06 meters, Diogu is considered slightly undersized for an NBA power forward, but he makes up for a lack of bulk with a long wingspan.