By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The French national team was hoping to have at least some of its NBA stars for the upcoming Eurobasket qualifiers, which will be played in November in a “bubble”, but that was not the case and it probably won’t be for any other national team. Despite the fact that the French NBA players wanted to play, including Evan Fournier, Nicolas Batum, Vincent Poirier, Frank Ntilikina, and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, they didn’t get permission to do so from the NBA.
The preliminary roster was announced with no NBA players included. As the French national team coach Vincent Collet stated today according to the press release of the French Basketball Federation: “With Patrick Beesley (ed.note: the French national team GM) we anticipated a number of things. I had contacted the NBA players in the weeks leading up to this announcement. All the players I was able to contact were very excited to be able to play in this window. Unfortunately, the NBA refused to release players for this window and so we built a team accordingly. Evan Fournier, Nicolas Batum, Vincent Poirier, Frank Ntilikina, and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot were contented. All were enthusiastic. I called them today to explain the situation. Most have already answered me. I am also disappointed, I think it was a good opportunity, both to strengthen our team but also to work for the future, knowing that we did not have a meeting in the past summer. We have to take note”.
Beesley gave even more details for the whole situation between FIBA and the NBA and explained that the FIBA-NBA agreement can be used for this occasion: “As soon as Vincent had the very positive feedback from our NBA players for participating in the November games, we got in touch with the NBA. Before contacting their franchise, you have to go through the official body to get this green light. We communicated our timing which was very clear, the deadline was today. Why today? Quite simply because we are obliged by FIBA to give the list and inform the clubs of the players who are called up. The NBA was aware, we contacted them several times and they replied that they could not give us an answer by today because they were working on the possible conditions of release of the players. The FIBA-NBA agreement was not updated and since this agreement allows players to be released over the summer period, they consider this to be an unusual period”.
Plus the second big issue for the NBA is the qualifiers “bubble” and the health protocols due to coronavirus, as Beesley said: ” The second big subject was the NBA requirements in relation to health rules in relation to COVID-19. We checked in yesterday and were told we had to wait until next weekend, which for us was impossible”.
After this turn of events, it seems that NBA players will not be able to compete for their national teams this November, even if Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas are included in the Lithuanian national team preliminary roster and the same applies to Svi Mikhailiuk and Ukraine. It has also to be noted that no EuroLeague players are expected to be part of the national team rosters, due to the ongoing debate between the EuroLeague and FIBA for the national team competitions calendar.
The hosts of the tournaments for the upcoming November 2020 windows of the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Qualifiers are Valencia (Spain), Talin (Estonia), Vilnius (Lithuania), Istanbul (Turkey), Espoo (Finland), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Pau (France) and Sarajevo (Bosnia) with four teams entering a “bubble” in each location.