31 January 2007

FIBA AFRIQUE : No 'Mercenaries'

World basketball governing body, Fiba, has dictated that only players with valid passport from their respective countries will be allowed to participate in the Zone V/ All Africa Games qualifiers' championship. The event throws off this Saturday, with seven countries vying for one All Africa Games' slot at Amahoro Petit stade, Kigali in Rwanda.

The All Africa Games will be staged in Algiers, Algeria in July.
Already, five countries in this Zonal fold, including Sudan, Eritrea, Tanzania, Djibouti and Zanzibar disqualified themselves from the event, leaving hosts-Rwanda, Egypt, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia in the fight for a lone slot.
Rwanda Basketball Federation (Ferwaba) officials said that Fiba has set passports and birth certificates as the only rightful documents that will guarantee players' participation in the Kigali event.

The documents, according to Fiba, will confirm the players' true nationalities, as the world governing body launches its campaign to crack down on the rampant malpractice of players featuring for one country after the other.

In cases where a player has a dual citizenship, Fiba insists that he/she would be considered a national of the team he/she first represented at an international event.
"I think the move is good because we shall have genuine winners at the end of the day. It's a good platform for countries to assess their strength at the game," said Innocent Karuhije, Ferwaba's technical director.
Rwanda is set to field one player in the men's national basketball team with a double nationality. Robert Thompson who is set to play a centre role in the Rwanda's national team has both Rwandan and American nationalities.

However, sources from Ferwaba have confirmed that the player is free to take part in the competition as he has not featured for any American national basketball team.
"He is definitely going to play for us because he has not featured for USA before," asserted Karuhije.Thompson, 24, who will be making his maiden appearance for Rwanda and is expected to be an immovable block against his opponents with his 1.89m height.
Fiba is set to scrutinise the teams on February 2, the eve of the competition.
Egypt is set to arrive in the country first, on February 1, but other participating countries were yet to reveal details of the travel, Ferwaba said.

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