How do teams naturalize to strengthen themselves?

6:15 pm, September 4, 2022, revised to 6:35 pm, September 4, 2022

At the beginning of the summer, reading the comments about his new Spanish passport, which he obtained in less than two months, Lorenzo Brown must have told himself that the match had not yet been won. Even among those preparing to join the European Championship, the first reaction could have been stinging. This American backpacker has made a place in the Euroleague but has never lived or played in Spain. And this is what upset Rudy Fernandez, captain of La Roja: “It does not seem right to me. I learned in the press that this player had obtained citizenship even though he had nothing to do with the country. I told the president of the federation what I thought.” In the France team, a little sarcasm was able to cross the ranks. As Evan Fournier: “Brown shouldn’t even know how to say hello in Spanish.”

The International Federation (FIBA) allows naturalization among 12 players. “ The Central Committee has discussed this many times and we believe that this balance is the right one.”It recently summoned its Secretary General Andreas Zagles. Basically, convenient passports, often issued at the last stage before the deadline, are not a new phenomenon. Designed exclusively for gamers from the United States, it is an incomparable fertile land and has long flourished in Europe, especially in the East. It is cultivated by second-tier states eager to climb the hierarchy.

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However, the trend has spread to the big teams. It is not without influence. Slovenia won the last Euro (2017) with a racket settled in the presence of Anthony Randolph, who had never resided in Ljubljana before going to collect his passport there. Since last year, Mike Toby, a native of New Jersey, has taken office. At the heart of the Tokyo Olympics were these words: “A few months ago, I did not even know where Slovenia is located. »

France and the Embiid file

For its part, Spain won three of the four previous editions of the Euro. Suffice it to say that they are supposed to have resources. Lorenzo Brown has been called up to make up for the sudden lack of playmaker position (Ricky Rubio injury). The engine from the opening match (17 points, 5 assists), is now being praised for his state of mind within the group, even if the debate has not been completely quelled in his new country. “Popular Debate, Debate in the Pub”, It still annoys Jorge Garpagosa, president of the federation. Under Spanish law, which does not recognize dual citizenship, Brown had to give up his US passport.

Nothing like Nick Wheeler Babb, Ivan Fournier’s gag during Thursday’s Germany-France game, or for Texas phenomenon Glenn Smith (Berlin), Croatia’s officially for two weeks. An idea born from a phone call from coach Damir Molomirovich to his agent, describing the profile he needs. A win-win process: while the selection is enhanced, the player increases its value in the European market, getting rid of the non-EU status.

In total, 12 euro teams, or half of the existing forces, were called naturalized players. “Now we have to cross our fingers that the rule remains limited to one element per team, Jean-Pierre Ciotat cases, President of the French Federation. Some countries want two, so why not want three. » The topic bounced back in his court in early July, when the Gazette made NBA top scorer Joel Embiid a French citizen. Even inside the blues, where a naturalized presence has been scarce for ten years, we first looked at each other before we set ourselves up.

The merits of the arrival of the Cameroonian, with weak ties to France apart from the common language, were discussed internally. On the athletic front, the controversy was quickly resolved. And the fact that the Philadelphia hub itself made the move, more than three years ago and without a trumpet, played into a well-received one that would obviously be destined for it. In this case, the link was forged and strengthened via Boris Diao, a former NBA player and selection manager since 2020. Embiid is the motive in the beginning, supports Siutat,Who wants to play in the French national team? » The alliance must be confirmed in principle for the 2023 World Cup, especially Paris 2024.

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