‘No more Americans on basketball team’

The days of foreign based players on  the Rwanda men’s national basketball team appear to be over, Times Sport an exclusively report.
Hamza Ruhezamihigo,Robert Thompson,Kenneth Gasana,Mathieu Miller.
Hamza Ruhezamihigo,Robert Thompson,Kenneth Gasana,Mathieu Miller.

The days of foreign based players on  the Rwanda men’s national basketball team appear to be over, Times Sport an exclusively report.

Rwanda basketball federation, (Ferwaba) has since 2007 relied on foreign players; mainly American-based in a bid to put together a successful national team.

But with so much being spent on the ‘Americans’ and little or no success to account for it all these years, the federation leadership has decided to rethink the approach.

According to Ferwaba Secretary General Richard Mutabazi, the national team will never again use American based players, who have cost the country a fortune in tax-payers’ money.

“We have decided not to use them anymore. They have been so costly for the country,” the former Espoir player told Times Sport in an exclusive interview recently.

 “They were playing on contracts but we will not depend on them anymore, not because they haven’t been useful but because of their big contracts. It is not good for the other players on the team, who don’t get even half of what the ‘Americans’ have been getting,” he noted.

Because of the influx of foreign based players mainly from US, on the national team, some critics in the region and beyond have gone as far as dubbing Rwanda men’s team as a ‘national team of Americans’.

Under coach Croatian Veceslav Kavedzija, Rwanda has competed in Afrobasket finals in 2007, 2009, 2011, however, majority of the players have been alleged none Rwandans, at least originally, with Americans and Congolese making the core of the team.

Some of the Americans based players, who have featured for Rwanda include; Manix Auriantal, Robert Thomson, Edouard Miller, Kenneth (Gasana), Cameron Bradley, and Mathieu Miller among others.

According to Mutabazi, the highest paid amongst them were getting up to US$15,000 (approx. Rwf9.8m on current exchange rate) for every competition. This did not include bonuses.

Home grown talents

The official noted that the other reason for the development is to give local Rwandese players a chance to play for their country.

“This will not only increase chances of local players playing for their country at the highest level but also the atten­dances for matches. There is a need to give more local young players more playing time – something they have been missing,” he explained.

Despite the federation spending heavily on air tickets and ac­commodation for the scouts to the US, the players who were selected were paid better than home grown ones and everything was paid for them.

Mutabazi believes that the only way they are go­ing to come close to their target is by putting in place more basketball struc­tures courts, training camps and promoting home grown talent.

Only Canada-based Hamza Ruhezamihigo, will continue to be called for national duty.

Espoir point guard Kami Kabange, who is married to a Rwandese wife and KBC’s Mike Bazangu will not be affected by the new policy since they don’t play on contracts.

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