By Neto Baptiste
Former president of the Antigua and Barbuda Basketball Association (ABBA) and the country’s Minister of Sports, Daryll Matthew, said small and developing countries should embrace International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rules on the utlilzing of naturalized players and the guidelines put in place to manage the process.
Matthew, who remembered the difficulties faced by the national association in trying to add two players not born in Antigua to its roster ahead of the 2015 Central Basketball Championships, believes the rule is there to protect smaller nations like Antigua and Barbuda from the bigger, richer basketball playing nations.
“FIBA sees that as a threat to countries where jurisdictions with a lot of money and resources may very well go and poach the best players from developing countries and thereby weaken these developing countries system and sporting infrastructure by taking their athletes, so that two naturalised players rule is one that I don’t see any appetite to changing internationally, even though we get affected by it adversely,” he said.
According to the FIBA rule, players not born in the country but whom would have been naturalised, must complete the process before turning 16.
Matthew said the process was a tedious one back in 2015 when association sought to place two of the country’s best players on its line-up.
“That same year when we won the medal, Kurt Looby, who was born in the United States and then, within a month, migrated to Antigua and went to primary school, secondary in Antigua, they still had Kurt listed as a naturalized citizen. That particular tournament where we won that bronze medal, it was about 11 o’clock the night when Aldo McCoy who was the team manager at the time and myself, were able to get FIBA to register Kurt as an Antiguan player and not a naturalized player, and by virtue of doing that we were able to bring Ernest Scott into the team,” he said.
Antigua and Barbuda captured bronze at the CAC in 2015 when the tournament was held in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
Antigua and Barbuda overcame an early 16-5 deficit, then overpowered the BVI and walked off with an 82-73 triumph in the bronze medal showdown.