Ime Udoka, a former D’Tigers of Nigeria basketball forward, led the Boston Celtics to their first NBA finals in almost a decade, defeating the Miami Heat 100-96 on Monday morning, May 30.
Jimmy Butler missed a late three-point try that would have given Miami the lead, and Boston almost failed in their fifth play-off run.
Udoka used his game time shouts and tactical manoeuvres to help the Celtics secure victory and will now face Golden State Warriors in the finals with game one to hold in San Francisco on Thursday, June 2.
The Celtics led by 17 at one point in the second quarter but a fourth-quarter flurry helped Miami repeatedly reduce the advantage as Boston’s Marcus Smart who had 24 points and nine rebounds in total, made two free throws to seal the finals place.
Speaking after the win, Udoka said: ”This is a typical Celtics win.
“We fought through a lot of adversity this year. We’re a resilient group and tonight seemed to signify our season. We can’t ever seem to shut the door and have to grind it out.”
Udoka played for Nigeria in the 2005 and 2011 FIBA Africa Championships, winning a bronze medal in both tournaments.
At the 2006 FIBA World Championships, Udoka led Nigeria in scoring, assists, and steals.
Udoka also coached for Team USA under Popovich at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, along with Celtics assistant Will Hardy.
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