"Far too early"

Mourning for Ademola Okulaja

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German basketball mourns the loss of long-time national player Ademola Okulaja, who passed away on Tuesday after illness at the age of just 46. He played 172 international games and won the bronze medal at the 2002 World Cup with the DBB team led by Dirk Nowitzki. FC Bayern Basketball expresses its deepest sympathy to his family and closest companions. Three former teammates of the "Warrior" express their condolences here. 

Marko Pesic, Managing Director of the FCBB; 97 games in the DBB jersey and in the bronze medal 2002 in Indianapolis teammate Okulajas:

"Ademola, together with Dirk Nowitzki, was the leader of our so-called 'silver generation,' which was, after all, very successful from the early 2000s until the 2005 European Championship silver medal. He was a strong character and as a player he basically revolutionized basketball by being able to fill the three and four positions at the same time. He was a fighter who never gave up, for whom no hurdle was too high and who pushed through and achieved his goals at all his stations.

His far too early death is simply wrong and tragic; our sympathies go out to his family and the people closely associated with him. German basketball must and will never forget Ademola, I am sure of that."

Marko Pesic (No. 7) won the 2002 World Championship bronze medal with Okulaja (No. 5) (c) Getty

Steffen Hamann, 131 caps, later one of Okulaja's successors in the DBB team as captain; U16 coach at FC Bayern Basketball:

"It makes me deeply sad to lose an old companion in the national team and also from Bamberg times. Ademola was a great player who also helped me as a person in my early days with the national team very much to take the next steps. I wish a lot of strength to all those who are close to him."

Demond Greene, 114 caps (from 2021), assistant coach to FCBB head coach Andrea Trinchieri:

"Many years ago, I had the opportunity to share a room with Ademola at my first DBB training course in Braunschweig. As a very young player, I was able to experience what an extremely funny guy he was. He was nicknamed the 'comic storyteller' because he always told his incredibly funny stories with his hands, feet and noises.

On the court, he was rightly called the warrior, which suited him: fighting without end, with endless energy and ambition. From him I learned early on what it takes to make a squad like that. It's a shame."

Photo: Imago