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Syracuse's Michael Gbinije Helps Nigeria Qualify For 2016 Olympics

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Michael Gbinije was a member of the Nigerian basketball team that just won AfroBasket 15. Nigeria had never won the tournament and the victory guarantees the country in next years Olympics.

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Gbinije and head coach Jim Boeheim might be together in Rio next summer -- but they won't be representing the same country.

Gbinije and the Nigerian basketball team won the AfroBasket 15 tournament, Africa's biannual basketball tournament, defeating the heavy favorite Angola 74-65 and guaranteeing a spot in next year's Olympics. It is Nigeria's first AfroBasket title.

The Syracuse Orange basketball senior had five points and three rebounds in 15 minutes of play during the game, including a deep three to give Nigeria a 56-39 lead. On the tournament, he averaged 7.3 points per game, 2.1 rebounds per game, and 1.6 assists per game.

"It's a big swag booster for me," Gbinije told syracuse.com earlier Sunday. "I can refer to myself as an Olympian."

He can thank his dad for that title, too: Gbinije's father, Frank, is a native of Nigeria and was able to get his son a try out for the team. And he made the team (obviously) despite the fact that he has never even been to Nigeria.

But that doesn't take away from the fact that he now has a gold medal and is packing his bags for Brazil in 2016.

"Playing on this team was a unique experience for me," Gbinije said. "Overall, I enjoyed playing with these guys."

Maybe this will give him some new-found perspective on the game and dominate the ACC in his senior year? Maybe Nigeria has some tricks up its sleeve that ole Jimbo never thought of for USA? Either way, congrats to Michael Gbinije. He joins a small club of Syracuse hoops players to be invited to the Olympics.