Angola's Pep Claros says FIBA should stop allowing naturalized players in tournaments

Pep Claros sounded off about the practice of naturalizing players to boost their FIBA tournament bids. Kennelf Monteza
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Spanish coach Pep Claros believes the recruitment of naturalized players has hampered the growth of basketball in many countries, including those in Africa.

Claros, now the head coach of Angola, takes pride that his team opted to go all-local for the FIBA World Cup, although the team has one player with NBA experience, Bruno Fernando.

When asked about how the recent wins of African teams in the FIBA World Cup would impact African basketball in general, Claros instead focused on Senegal, Nigeria, and South Sudan having a naturalized player in their midst.

"Senegal and Nigeria, when they play, and now South Sudan have some shooters, but it's different because we didn't naturalize any player. We don't sign an import," Claros said after Angola's must-win game against the Dominican Republic on Tuesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

He added, "We may be one of the only countries that don't have anybody other than  Angolans."

Claros said that Angola could have opted to naturalize a player to shore up their lineup, especially in the point guard position. Still, they chose not to, adding that naturalizing players is somehow unethical if you want to improve in basketball.

"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 and I really think that FIBA must stop this as soon as possible. Otherwise, in some years, there will be no local product. Each country needs to develop its own players."

He also addressed his concerns about some countries bringing in players of mixed descent, saying that they loaded their rosters with a bit too many players of mixed descent which affects building up the homegrown talents.

"There are players that don't speak the language of the country that they represent," Claros said.

Angola's hopes of advancing further into the FIBA World Cup suffered a huge blow, losing to the Dominican Republic, 75-67.

While the team's hopes now hang in a balance, Angola is now awaiting the maturity of their young point guards, who will likely share the floor general duties for the 2027 FIBA World Cup should they qualify.

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