P.M. News (Lagos)

18 February 2000

Africa: Ugonna Onyekwe Hot In America

Lagos — Check the Penn roster and the name that jumps out is Michael Jordan. The senior guard is the Quakers' leading scorer and even wears the same uniform number as the NBA great.

After Tuesday night's 55-46 victory over Princeton that gave Penn control of the Ivy league race, the name heard more than any other was Ugonna Onyekwe.

The freshman forward had 12 points, six rebounds and four blocks as well as the game's highlight clip - a 360 degree dunk. Ugonna Onyekwe 6-foot-8 and born in Nigeria, moved to London at 14 and spend two years at Mercersburg Academy. Since his name takes a while to master, he is usually referred to as "U" or "the freshman."

"There isn't much fright in him," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. Even our first game at Kentucky, U scored when we really needed a basket. He figured he was supposed to be out there playing."

And he has been ever since, averaging 29 minutes, behind only Jordan and Senior guard Matt Langel. His 10.9 points per game trails only Jodan's 15.9 and Langel's 11.6. His 6.2 rebound average trails only that of senior centre Geoff Owens' 7.2. "It's not just me. Everyone has made a concerted effort from the start of the season to help each other out when someone is struggling," Onyekwe said. "We look out for each other."

"I felt more comfortable with Penn being in the city. I like that environment," he said. "And with the academics you can't go wrong, and it has the basketball tradition."

Onyekwe speaks with a British accent. His silver wire-rimmed glasses give him that post game Ivy League look. "You do the best you can when you're on the floor," he said." As a freshman you know you're going to make mistakes. It's all a learning process and you have to makes sure you don't get down."

And what about the whirling dunk that sealed the win and silenced the crowd of 7,385 at Jadwin Gymnasium?

"I was trying to do something fun to end the game," he said, breaking into a grin. "I was wide open so I said 'Why not?: Princenton coach Bill Carmody was asked if this was one of Penn's more athletic teams.

"The freshman, he's the athletic guy," Carmody said. "This guy seems like he's not just a runner and jumper. He seems to be a pretty good basketball player."

Troussier Silent On Morocco

Philippe Troussier, whose current contract as Japan's coach expires in June, was tight-lipped yesterday about a report that Moroccan soccer officials are interested in him for the post of their country's national coach.

"I don't want to talk about it now because I'm concentrating on my job for Japan," Troussier said as his squad was preparing for its final Asian cup qualifier against hosts Macao on Sunday.

Reuters report from Rabat quoted a senior official of Morocco's soccer governing body as saying that Troussier has been named a candidate to replace compatriot Henry Michel, who resigned after Morocco's poor African Nations Cup campaigns earlier this month.

Welshman John Toshak, a former Real Madrid manager, Italian Nevio Scala, formerly with Serie A side Parma, were also mentioned along with Troussier as a possible successor to Michel.

"I think it's natural my name pops up when they talk about a coaching job in Africa, just like the name of (Asernal manager Arsene) Wenger comes along very often in Japan," Troussier, said referring to his career as national coach in Africa.

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