SAN DIEGO (Afrobasket/FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Nigeria provided international basketball with many a thrill this summer, at both the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Venezuela and at the London Games.
A country that had produced African and NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon had never had its national team earn a trip to the Olympics before.
That changed in 2012 due in large part to the presence of Ike Diogu, the big man who did a little bit of everything at the OQT in Caracas to help Nigeria reach London.
Diogu was Nigeria's most valuable player at the OQT, averaging 16.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.
In the triumph that clinched the trip to Britain over the Dominican Republic on 8 July, Diogu erupted for 25 points on 10 of 14 shooting, including three of four from the arc.
The Nigerian fans who had piled into the Poliedro that afternoon played the drums, sang songs and danced, and Diogu enjoyed every minute.
Once in London, Diogu was also very good but Nigeria, despite beating defending African champions Tunisia, didn't advance to the Quarter-Finals.
From the time he put on the Nigeria shirt, Diogu knew he was putting himself in the shop window.
Success with the national team and an appearance in London could raise eyebrows with teams in the NBA, the league where he once played.
So it has proved, with the Phoenix Suns deciding to have Diogu in their training camp - which started Tuesday in San Diego - and giving him every chance to make their team.
“I was so happy just to have the opportunity to showcase to everybody that the skills are still there,” said the 29-year-old Diogu, who had been playing professionally overseas.
“I think a lot of people were surprised with what I was able to do with my national team.
"I just want to carry it over to let everyone know that I’m a legitimate NBA player, and that I belong in this league.”
That Phoenix is the team giving him a chance to make it back into the NBA should come as no surprise.
Diogu turned out for the Sun Devils of nearby Arizona State University, and he wasn't just any player.
The 2.06m power forward/center was the Pac-10 Player of the Year.
He was then selected ninth in the 2005 NBA Draft.
Being with Phoenix during their training camp is allowing him to walk down memory lane.
“Yeah, it definitely brings back a lot of good memories, so that’s pretty cool,” he said at the club's media day.
“I’ve always had great fan support here, and I had a lot of success here in college.”
Nigeria will no doubt be counting on Diogu to play next summer at the Afrobasket again when they try to earn a spot at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.