With less than a week until the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament begins, there is an addition to an international roster that involves another current Phoenix Suns player.
Yuta Watanabe will be representing his home country of Japan in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup and he is the only active member of the Suns to compete in that tournament. Both Deandre Ayton and Eric Gordon will be playing for the Bahamas, but it is in the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament, which commences on August 12 in five different international locations.
40 total teams will compete with 8 teams in the Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournaments, with two occurring in Europe, one in Africa, one in Asia, and one in the Americas (which is where the Bahamas is slated to compete).
The newest name to be associated with an Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament team is newly acquired Suns’ wing Chimezie Metu, who will captain the Nigerian team, known as D’Tigers.
D’Tigers Captain— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) August 9, 2023
Chimezie is back with Nigeria for the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament of Africa! pic.twitter.com/A6yYNulj3E
Chimezie Chukwudum Metu, who was born in Los Angeles, California and attended the University of Southern California, is of Nigerian descent and has played internationally for them in the past. He played at the 2014 Nike Global Challenge and was an All-Tournament selection at age 17. He averaged 9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in 5 games for the Nigerian team in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. He played in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for Nigerian as well, once again averaging 9 points, adding 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in his 3 games played.
He will join a Nigerian roster that is currently ranked #19 in the world, per FIBA. Notably not participating is Metu’s current teammate and native to Nigeria, Josh Okogie. JO played alongside Metu in both the 2019 FIBA World Cup and 2020 Olympic games.
The 15-man preliminary roster for the Pre-Qualifying Olympic Tournament in Lagos— D’Tigers | Nigeria Basketball (@NigeriaBasket) August 2, 2023
Chimezie Metu leads the way
Chimezie was one of the early additions made by James Jones during the frenzied free agency in late June. He comes to Phoenix after playing with a Sacramento Kings team that made the playoffs for the first time since 2006, and although he wasn’t a primary contributor to that team, he still contributed to their success. He played in 66 games last season, averaging 4.9 points on 58.9 FG%. He played in 60 games the previous season, starting 20 of them, to get his 8.9 points. The 6’9” forward/wing will provide added depth at both positions for the 2023-24 Suns.
We will get our first chance to see him when Nigeria, who is the host country for the tournament, tips off against Senegal at 10:00am AZ time on Monday, August 14. You can watch these and other Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament games on Courtside 1891.