One of the pressing issues for basketball nations like the Philippines is the eligibility process of FIBA for national teams.
The existing rules of the global basketball authority state that any player who was unable to obtain a passport for the country they desire to play in after the age of 16 will be classified as a naturalized player.
There is only one naturalized player slot per team.
When asked if FIBA is willing to relax its stance and follow the FIFA model of eligibility, where the citizenship of either parent or blood lineage and a passport are the sole requirements to represent a country, Secretary-General Andreas Zagklis said that it won’t be happening anytime soon.
And it’s because it would affect the integrity of the game.
“No. We will not go in that direction due to the specifics we have in our sport,” he shared on Sunday.
“We have two to three big markets that produce players connected to a number of other countries, and that would lead to national teams that have very little to do with the level of basketball and the development of basketball in their country.
This is the reason why the likes of Jordan Clarkson, Christian Standhardinger, Stanley Pringle, and Brandon Rosser are classified as naturalized players in FIBA competition despite having legitimate Filipino lineage.
Nations like Indonesia and Chinese-Taipei found a loophole in this, naturalizing foreign prospects before the age of 16 so they can play as locals.
Of course, there are exemptions given by FIBA as well.
In the case of a developing nation like the Bahamas, it allowed Eric Gordon to switch federations ‘for the good of basketball.’
Then there is the residency rule.
If a player was unable to obtain a local passport by the age of 16 but studied and played professionally in that country, he will be granted local status. It usually takes 10 years to complete the residency.
This was the case used for Greg Slaughter and Chris Newsome and will be used for Jason Perkins this year and Michael Phillips in at least six more years.
For its part, FIBA will continue to implement its current regulations for the foreseeable future.
“As a rule, the Central Board is clear: one naturalized player per team. This is the No. 1 principle that I do not see changing. And No. 2 — the criteria for someone to get eligibility are clear: you have a passport, you are eligible. If you had a passport after the age of 16, we have to see if you had significant links with the country. And if you didn’t, then you fall under the naturalized category. It’s a very difficult rule,” said Zagklis.
“Nobody has proposed something better than that [a rule that would bring fairer results], I have to be honest with you. So, we are sticking to this current rule, and we have a very experienced team that is reviewing the eligibility and the application of this rule. And we have to be very responsible for how we deal with that.”