04 July 2008

CAMEROON : Cameroon fear star Mbah a Moute may miss Athens

Luc Mbah a Moute is uncertain if he will play for Cameroon at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Athens.

While Cameroon train in Lyon, France, ahead of the qualifying event which tips off on July 14, Mbah a Moute, arguably his country’s most important player, is working out with the Milwaukee Bucks after being chosen by the team in the second round of the NBA draft.
“I am still talking with the team (Milwaukee),” Mbah a Moute said to FIBA.Com.
“I don’t know what their decision will be.”
The 22-year-old forward, best known for his defensive ability at both UCLA and at last year’s FIBA Africa Championship for Cameroon where the team claimed a surprise silver medal, is close to fulfilling a dream by playing in the NBA.
“If I don’t go to Athens, I will be disappointed,” he said, “but at same time I will be excited about having the chance to be working out with a new team.
“I believe the guys could surprise many people in Athens.”
Mbah a Moute made three straight NCAA Final Four appearances with UCLA and elected to turn pro before his senior year.
In Lyon, Cameroon coach Lazare Adingono has his fingers crossed that the new Bucks recruit will be in his team as the Africans take on Puerto Rico and Croatia in Group D in Greece.
“It is up to his team to make it clear if they will allow him to play for Cameroon,” Adingono said to FIBA.Com.
“We would love to have him with us.
“If he does not come, it will be a blow for us, but we have got new guys who will have the opportunity to step up and do a good job.
“Luc is one of the best players of Cameroon and Africa.”
Adingono, an assistant coach at Canisius College who took the Cameroon reins last year, is working with 15 players in Lyon but will take only 12 to Athens.
“Guys are trying to absorb everything we are doing,” he said.
“They are excited and are looking forward to starting the competition.”
Adingono admits he and his players will be taking a journey into the unknown when they take on Croatia and Puerto Rico.
“It is true, we never faced a European team,” he said. “I haven‘t got a clue about them.
“It will be a major challenge to fight those two giants, but it will be very interesting.”
Cape Verde is another African team in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament after claiming the bronze medal at the FIBA Africa championship last year in Angola.
The Angolans won last year’s African title to clinch a place at the Beijing Games.
What are the chances of Cameroon or Cape Verde joining them?
“I would love to see that happening,” Adingono said.
“It would mean that Africa is not too far behind those teams. Cape Verde had a good Africa Championship and could do well in Athens.

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