Credit: Rodolfo Molina/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images
Credit Rodolfo Molina/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Last weekend James Nnaji left his mark in the ACB League. The Nigerian center, born in 2004, made his debut with FC Barcelona in the domestic competition after he had already debuted with the Blaugranas in the EuroLeague a few weeks ago.

James Nnaji

James  Nnaji
James  Nnaji
MIN: 5.14
PTS: 0.67 (20%)
REB: 1.33
As: 0
ST: 0
BL: 0
TO: 1
GM: 3

With Brandon Davies out due to coronavirus, Sarunas Jasikevicius decided to include him in the starting line-up. Nnaji did not waste the opportunity. Encouraged by his teammates and fans, he shined from the first quarter.

He was stunning overall. Far from seeming nervous, he showed his length and ability to protect the rim. Great defender whose energy allowed him to attack every offensive rebound. 

In his debut, Nnaji's finished with 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 blocks in 19 minutes of action. Impressive stats to break two individual records. 

Firstly, he became the youngest player ever to put 5 blocks in an ACB game at 17 years old. Yannick Nzosa finished with 4 blocks at 17 years and 330 days old. Nnaji is 17 years and 150 days old.

He also broke a PIR record for FC Barcelona. He ended the game against BAXI Manresa with 19 PIR. The great Juan Carlos Navarro finished with 15 in his debut in 1997.

"Not even in our best dreams we expect this level of him. He has been our most solid player. And looking at the numbers, he was also one of the best. I can't tell you where this game came from. He works so hard", Jasikevicius admitted in the press conference after the game.

Nnaji, who was named MVP in the last U18 Spanish Championship, could not hide his happiness after his ACB debut despite the loss.

"I'm glad to have had this opportunity. I always dreamed of playing at this level. Mirotic told me before the game to keep my head up and enjoy. I tried it. Now it's time to continue," he explained.

The Nigerian youngster spent two years at the Laszlo Ratgeber in Pecs, Hungary, before landing at Barcelona in 2020. The Hungarian Academy recruited him after he made a post on Facebook.

In his first year, his development in Barcelona was gradual, reaching his prime in the last month, leading the FC Barcelona U18 team to a runner-up in the Adidas Next Generation Team alongside Michael Caicedo.

Nnaji, who loves to play the piano, spent the preseason with Barcelona's first team this summer. He presented to society this Sunday with a spectacular performance. A new star is in the making.

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James Nnaji

James  Nnaji
Team: FC Barcelona
Position: C
Age: 17
Height: 208 cm
Weight: 94 kg
Birth place: Nigeria