The death of former national team captain Ademola Okulaja has caused consternation in German basketball and beyond.
“This is so hard to comprehend and so incredibly sad,” wrote Marko Pesic on Twitter. The manager of the FC Bayern basketball team had won a World Cup bronze medal at Okulaja’s side in 2002.
Okulaja, who won the Korac Cup and the German championship with Alba Berlin, died in the capital on Tuesday at the age of just 46.
“We are deeply saddened by Ademola’s death. He was an albatross from the very beginning and one of the first to launch a great basketball career from our youth programme,” said Alba managing director Marco Baldi: “The Alba family has lost a friend and long-time companion today.”
His former club Brose Bamberg also expressed its deepest dismay. “Way too early… take care up there,” the Bambergers wrote on Twitter. Okulaja wore the jersey of Bamberg from 2007 to 2009.
FC Barcelona, for whom Okulaja had played one year during his successful career, also reacted shocked. “It is with great regret that we have received the news of the death of Ademola Okulaja, who played for our team in the 2001/2002 season and was a German basketball legend,” the Catalans announced.
“Ademola Okulaja represented everything that is good about our sport as a true competitor on the field and an even better gentleman off it,” said Jordi Bertomeu, EuroLeague chief executive. One “could not be sadder”.