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Diogu on top of world after winning first pro title

Updated: 2013-03-31 07:41
By Sun Xiaochen ( China Daily)

Diogu on top of world after winning first pro title

In helping the Guangdong Southern Tigers recapture the league title, US forward Ike Diogu also fulfilled his lifetime dream in China.

Diogu (pictured), a Nigerian American 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 a NBA power forward, but he makes up for a lack of bulk with a long wingspan.

Diogu played the regular season with a blue-collar attitude. He was an enthusiastic rebounder and defender, but started to deliver offensively with a solid jumper near the basket in the playoffs. He averaged 17.7 points in the postseason, which allowed Yi Jianlian more space under the rim.

Diogu's season may not be over as he harbors hopes of joining an NBA team as the playoffs near.

"I definitely hope to be back in the NBA because it is regarded as the best league in the world. I will talk to my agent to see if I can make a playoff roster," said Diogu, who was released by the San Antonio Spurs last year.

(China Daily 03/31/2013 page7)

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