08 November 2012

RWANDA : Pros to be considered for hoops team

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IN LINE FOR RECALL: Robert Thompson (R) and Hamza Ruhezamihigo will still be considered for national team duty. The New Times / File.
The national basketball federation has come out to clarify on the reports that appeared in local media stating that neutralised Rwandans aren’t in the national team plans.
The federation said the players will be featuring for the national basket team, if they meet the selection requirements as set by the coach.
In an interview with Timesport, the federation secretary general, Richard Mutabazi said the federation will only stick with foreign based players who feature for their respective teams and whose appearance fees are within the federation’s financial reach.
Mutabazi confirmed yesterday that the likes of Robert Thompson, Manix Auriantal, Edouard Miller, Kenneth Gasana, Cameron Bradley, Mathieu Miller and Hamza Ruhezamihigo will still be considered for national team duty.
Mutabazi hinted that the players are still eligible to feature for the national team though the federation will put more emphasis on local talent. The national team has since 2007 relied mainly on neutralised players in major regional and continental championships.
“Take an example of Thompson, he is legally a Rwandan and his services will be and have been vital to the national team”, Mutabazi clarified. 
Mutabazi said the federation has decided not to call up professionals who cost the country a fortune in public funds. Born in Pennsylvania, Thompson moved to Rwanda in 2006 after graduation. He has had playing spells in Europe and Rwanda.
He noted that active professionals will be considered if they can nurture the younger players as a way of giving the team continuity.
“This will not only increase chances of local players playing for their country at the highest level but also inspire future players”
“There is a need to give more local young players more playing time – something they have been missing owing to the presence of these professional players,” he explained.
“We are not excluding foreign based players, rather we want to focus on local talent and give them a chance and exposure. Our focus is on locally based, but who knows? This is a progressive strategy that can’t immediately exclude other players”
“We do recognise their contribution to the national team; after all they played and gave their best. And if they can’t play for the team let’s say the coach didn’t select them, they are still useful for the other aspects of the game’s development” Mutabazi revealled.
According to an investigation by TimeSport, professional players are contracted and remunerated US$15000 as appearance fees per competition minus bonuses.     
“The contract issue is not a fact because first of all I personally don’t know what was their contract (except hearing it informally), and second a contract is an agreement between two parties and it won’t be wrong if they had one” Mutabazi said.
Under Croat coach, Veceslav Kavedzija, Rwanda competed in Afrobasket finals in 2007, 2009, 2011, with neutralised players being the majority.

Rwanda finished ninth at the 2009 FIBA Africa Championship after making its debut in 2007.

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