Oklahoma City Thunder guard Victor Oladipo lands after dunking the ball against the New York Knicks. Photo: Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports

JOHANNESBURG - The extra luggage that Victor Oladipo returned to Indiana with has left him with no choice but to come back for the 2018 NBA Africa Game that is likely to be played in Nigeria.

Oladipo was named MVP (Most Valuable Player), which came with a big shiny trophy, in the exhibition match between Team Africa and Team World played at the Ticketpro Dome on Saturday. 

This was the second match of this nature played in Johannesburg. Team Africa lost both those matches. But Oladipo, son of a Nigerian mother and a father from Sierra Leone, put on a show to help Team Africa fight hard in their 108-97 loss.

“I have to come back. I have no choice. I have to come and defend this (the MVP trophy),” Oladipo said.

The next edition would be an emotional affair for Oladipo, should Nigeria get the nod as the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, revealed that this match will not be staged in South Africa next year as part of their plan to take it across the continent. 

Nigeria are strong favourites to host it with huge interest for the sport in Africa’s most populous nation. That would give Oladipo an opportunity to dazzle in the country of his mother's, Joan Amanze Oladipo, birth.

“It means a lot to come here and play, especially being of Nigerian descent,” Oladipo said. “It was awesome. The fans played a huge part in the game. It was great to do stuff in front of them and show them a good time. 

"To come here, impact lives and come back with a piece of silverware means a lot for me. The highlight of my time was visiting the orphanage (SOS Children’s Village in Ennerdale). It was a great time and something that I will always remember.”

The fans who packed the Dome will also remember his flamboyance that entertained the crowd to give them their monies' worth. It was nothing new to Oladipo, whose game is characterised by his flashy moves and athleticism. 

Subconsciously the drive to play like that could have been shaped by the desire to impress his father, Dr Christopher Oladipo, who was never a fan of his son choosing basketball. 

Oladipo senior hardly comes to watch his son in action. He has argued that he does that so that he doesn’t put pressure on Victor, saying that when he does come to watch him play he prefers to do so without his knowledge or him seeing him. Regardless of what the motivation is, Oladipo is a marvel to watch on the court.

“I work really hard on my game,” Oladipo said. “This is something that I really love to do. I work too hard not to be confident in what I do. I just have to continue building on it.”

The Star

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