The Nigerian basketball community has been thrown into mourning following the demise of the first Nigerian basketball player to be awarded sportsman of the year, Yomi Sangodeyi. Popularly known as Yomi Basket, he was a regular face in the various Nigerian National teams to many international tournaments in the late 70s and 80s.
In an emotion laden statement issued by the Nigerian Basketball Federation board led by its president, Engr Musa Kida, Sangodeyi, who died on Tuesday, was described as a big brother and a legend of the game. Reminiscing on the life of the deceased, Kida said:
“He was like a big brother to many of us then in the National Team. He made it easy for us as young athletes to find our feet and settle in the team during our active days.
“We have not just lost a great basketball mind that got drafted by the NBA in 1984 by the New Jersey Nets; we have lost one of the two FIBA Hall of Famers from Nigeria, the other being Mr. Babs Ogunade the VP of the NBBF. He was our national treasure who typified everything basketball stood for in Nigeria and beyond.”
According to a 2017 ESPNAfrica article, Sangodeyi was listed along- side Akeem Olajuwon, Alabi Adelan- wa, Joe Garba and Emmanuel Chagu as one of the five greatest Nigerian basketball players. He was arguably the first and best centre of the modern era who became Nigeria’s first full-time professional basketball player. “Yomi was a complete basketball player which many today would have found difficult to handle. He had a great impact on our generation with the famous NBA Hall of Famer, Hakeem Olajuwon, being one of his students while in the national team.”