Tuesday, July 28, 2009

FIBA Asia to tackle nationality issues?


Posted on 27 July 2009

FIBA Asia secretary general Dato Yeoh Choo Hock has reportedly taken notice of the efforts by some countries in the region to recruit foreign players and pass them off as nationals.

China’s Sohu.com reported that Dato Yeoh had made it clear that only one foreign player could be naturalized and play in the FIBA Asia Men’s Championship which begins in Tianjin, China on August 6.

The FIBA Asia secretary general was quoted as saying “the rule is clear. There can only be one player who changes his nationality to play for a new country and we will carefully examine every player on the rosters to make sure the rule is properly implemented.”

There were reports that a number of Asian countries have tried to recruit players and have them change their nationalities so they could play in the Asian Championship.

The issue broke wide open at the Jones Cup in Chinese-Taipei when Iran’s head coach Veselin Matic claimed in a post game press conference that Qatar, Lebanon and Jordan benefited from allegedly “naturalizing American imports.”

Matic stressed that Iranian players were all native players and that the Asian Championship “is a tournament that belongs to Asian players.”

He went on to charge that some countries have been naturalizing American imports “to make their team stronger. The championship looks like a pro game right now.”

While Matic mentioned Lebanon, Jordan and Qatar he said the Qataris are the worst and hardly have a local player on the roster.

Jordan’s coach, the fiery Mario Palma was visibly angry over Matic’s allegations and said the Iranian coach should focus on how to make Iran a better team instead of making false accusations on the import issue. He also claimed that not all Iranian players are native.

www.insidesports.ph, Standard Today and Viva Sports did some research and also obtained information from a Lebanese citizen who confirmed that NBA player Jackson Vroman had been naturalized but that Matthew “Matt” Wayne Freije, a 6’10, 240 pound forward from Vanderbilt University who was drafted by the Miami Heat in the 2nd round of the 2004 NBA draft was being passed off as a Lebanese when he reportedly an American. Freije scored a tournament high 39 points and pulled down 11 rebounds against South Korea on Saturday and proved a major asset to the team.

Also being paraded as a Lebanese was University of Kentucky’s Antwain Barbour, a flashy 6’5” guard/forward who represented the USA National Team at the World University Games of 2001 in China.

Barbour, nicknamed “Teardrop” was a CBA All Star in 2005 and won the CBA Championship in 2006. He is regarded as a pure slasher who gets to the basket with ease.

Iran has 7’2” Hamed Haddadi who plays for the Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA made a big impression in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games when he emerged as the top rebounder and shot blocker and was the lone Olympian to average a double-double with 16.6 points and 11.2 rebounds a game. However, there’s no question that Haddadi is an Iranian.

Also in the line-up is Iranian-American Benny Koochoie who was called up to join the national team by coach Matic. Koochoie has just ended his first season with California State Stanislaus in the US NCAA Division II and averaged 13.1 points, 4.2 assists and 2.1 steals per game.

Benny is the son of Robert and Nini Koochoie and was born in Teheran on February 19, 1986. He has dual citizenship and is a 6’2” point guard.