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MANILA, Philippines – Angola head coach Pep Claros had strong parting shots after his team was brought to the brink of 2023 FIBA World Cup elimination off a close loss to the Dominican Republic on Tuesday, August 29.
Answering a local media member in a mix of Spanish and English, the 54-year-old mentor detailed how FIBA’s rules on naturalization are slowing down grassroots development in all basketball nations.
“We can sign an import, like most of the national teams, and maybe we’re going to score more threes, but I don’t believe this is correct. I think, I really think that FIBA must stop this as soon as possible,” Claros said. “Otherwise, in some years, there will be no local product.”
“We need to develop. Each country needs to develop their own players. This is what I think. There are players that don’t speak the language of the country they represent. There are countries with 7-8 players that are born outside their country.”
As it stands, FIBA allows one naturalized player per team to compete under its banner, and a vast majority of nations currently take advantage of this with NBA-caliber players in their midst.
Notable examples are Jordan Clarkson for the Philippines, Kyle Anderson for China, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson for Jordan, Omari Spellman for Lebanon, and Carlik Jones for World Cup debutant South Sudan.
Claros argues that countries need to go through the growing pains of development in order to strengthen their programs in a way that is distinctly theirs.
“We have limitations on [shooting]. Not only in the national team, but in the country. We only have three or four pure, pure shooters. Some of them are very, very young. Some of them are very, very old. We still have to develop this,” he continued.
“Senegal and Nigeria, and now South Sudan, they have some shooters, but it’s different, because we didn’t naturalize any player. We don’t sign any import. Obviously, if we sign a shooter, it could be easier. Maybe we’re one of the only countries that don’t have anybody who are not Angolans. We are betting from Angolan products.”
So far, Claros’ team has made progress in the ongoing World Cup, winning against Clarkson-led Gilas Pilipinas in the group phase and only losing close affairs against Italy and the Dominican Republic.
While Angola is nowhere near title contention and already has one foot out the competition, Claros can exit with his head held high knowing that he fought in what he believes is the right way.
“We have two or three projects, but are still very, very young. This is one of our weaknesses that for the future, we have to work very, very hard on, but not only for today or for tomorrow, but for the next years.” – Rappler.com