Controversial reinforcement of naturalized players at the basketball Euro

The Spanish team owes a proud candle to its playmaker, who was born in Roswell, Georgia, United States thirty-two years ago. On Saturday, September 10, La Roja defeated Lithuania (94:102, after overtime) in the round of 16 of the basketball Euro, led by Lorenzo Brown, the author of 28 points and 8 assists. His opponents took it badly. “I don’t know what this team would be without Lorenzo Brown,” Lithuania captain Mindaugas Kuzminskas has been interested in a player who never imagined wearing the colors of Spain before the start of the summer.

“It is an absolutely legal resource, all we did was comply with the FIBA ​​rule [Fédération internationale de basketball], as well as many other teams big and small”, the president of the Spanish Federation, Jorge Garbajos, defended his “rookie” at the end of August. The naturalization of a player to fill a void at a key position is not a new phenomenon in basketball – and sports in general. Slovenia won the title of European champion in 2017, which was well helped by Anthony Randolph. Player “who doesn’t speak much Slovenian”French coach Vincent Collet estimated at the time.

Also read: Basketball: The Euros are rarely at such a high level

“Unfortunately it has become common and all nations do it, but it will always shock me.laments former Blues pivot Frédéric Weis. “When I see a guy like Mike Tobey, who didn’t know where Slovenia was on the map before he put on the national jersey, I think it’s very average. » At the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, neoSlovin, who has become an essential part of star Luka Doncic’s team, openly replied that he was hearing about his adopted country for the first time. ” when [on lui a] asked for a passport”. Leader Jaleen Smith, a naturalized Croatian earlier this summer, made a similar response on Friday, September 9. “I didn’t know where Croatia was, it was the first time [là-bas], but if a country wants you to come, why not take the opportunity? “The national team is not a club and we can’t do anything”answered Frédéric Weis, Olympic runner-up in Sydney (Australia), now a BeIN Sports consultant.

Competitiveness above all

If twelve teams – half of the selections – at the Euros rely on a naturalized person, the rules are not flexible. Notably, unlike handball, basketball has implemented a strict rule regarding the limitation of nationalities by advantage: since 1999, only one naturalized player is allowed per team (out of twelve players). “It’s an honest compromise”, FIBA ​​General Secretary Andreas Zagklis estimated at the end of August. With a wish to guarantee “competitive balance and sporting integrity”international organization, he believes “to ensure that there are some links between the players and the country they represent”. Whatever the discourse of the federation, it evidently has no control over the various national laws setting out the rules for obtaining a passport.

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