Nigeria eligible Onyeka Okongwu made a huge impact including a big block to help Atlanta Hawks secure a 107-101 win against Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA play-in game on Friday.
Onyeka Okongwu who was called on after regular starting center Clint Capela got hurt gave a good account of himself as Hawks led by Trae Young booked a play-off spot.
Trae Young will receive all the accolades for scoring 38 of the 107 points made by the Hawks against the Cavaliers but other players like Onyeka Okongwu made a great impact.
After Clint Capela hyperextended his right knee late in the first half, Onyeka Okongwu came in and helped his team defensively.
The 2020 round 1 pick 6 had 9 rebounds, 1 steal, and 2 points in the 21 minutes he spent on the court.
Big O, during his post-match interview, explained that he had to do everything to win the game for the injured Clint Capela.
“When Clint went down, I just told myself ‘Go ahead and win this game for Clint.’ He does so much for us. Has a big impact on the game.
“He went down. So, with our brotherhood, I just wanted to take care of his duties.”
With 51secs left on the clock and scores at 102-99 in favour of the Hawks, Cavs’ Caris LeVert almost had the ball in the basket but Onyeka Okongwu prevented the ball from going in.
The Hawks are 9-1 in games where Onyeka Okongwu plays more than 25 minutes.
The Atlanta Hawks who were finalists last season will be facing Miami Heat in the NBA Playoffs’ first round.
Miami Heat have D’Tigers point guard Gabe Vincent and American Basketballers of Nigerian heritage Bam Adebayo, Victor Oladipo on their roster.