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Both players were informed by the ruling basketball body of their ineligibility to play for Nigeria owing to “substantial involvement’’ with the United States basketball team for more than ten years.
The move has left both players exploring every means available to rescind the decision as they look to represent Nigeria at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics this summer. Ogwumike is still optimistic and is considering an application to the Court of Arbitration in Sport which is capable of expediting a full hearing if both parties agree. Ogwumike could also be permitted to play for Nigeria until there is a full hearing.
Nigeria’s ruling basketball body, the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) is taking no chances and has filed an appeal to FIBA, insisting that both players are a huge boost to the D’Tigress Olympic squad.
“We do tacitly believe there are undercurrents and motivation for such a decision which is repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience. It is also out rightly discriminatory because players of African descent are approved to play for other countries constantly but the reverse is not the case.”
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It will be recalled that both players gained the consent of USA basketball to feature for Nigeria after paying an administrative fee of $10,000. Both players also hold Nigerian passports.
FIBA rule states that players that have featured for the USA in any FIBA-sanctioned competition after their 17th birthday are not eligible to play for another country in a FIBA tournament.
However, the appeal submitted by the NBBF hinges on the fact that FIBA regulations on player eligibility posit that the secretary-general can authorise a player to play for his/her country of origin if it will help the growth of basketball in the country.
Featured Image Source: The Spun
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