Joel Embiid’s decision to represent the United States at next summer’s Paris Olympics sent shockwaves around the basketball world, but nowhere more than in his native Cameroon.
BBC Sport Africa reports that while those at the Cameroon Basketball Federation (Fecabasket) understand the Philadephia 76ers star’s choice, they’re also “annoyed.”
“It’s annoying because many people thought he would choose Cameroon,” an unnamed Fecabasket official said. “Embiid’s choice was legitimate and the reaction of Cameroonians, who are annoyed, is legitimate at the same time.”
Embiid, 29, could also have decided to play for France, a nation that granted him citizenship last year.
In his announcement last week, Embiid cited the birth of his son as a driving factor in choosing the US.
“I want to honour my son who was born in the US,” Embiid said. “I want my boy to know I played my first Olympics for him.”
Later at a press availability, the Kansas product said that Cameroon having yet to qualify for the Olympics pushed him towards Team USA.
“I always want to represent my country, but the goal is also to play in Olympics,” Embiid said. “If [Cameroon] qualified for the Olympics, that would be an easy decision, but that’s still up in the air, and I really do want to play in the Olympics. The US have been struggling the last couple of years trying to get back on the top.”
South Sudan, led by former Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng, is the only African country to qualify as of yet, doing so through the FIBA World Cup last month. Cameroon, expected to have Toronto Raptors duo Pascal Siakam and Christian Koloko, can still qualify through a pre-Olympic tournament next July.
Team USA is seeking a fifth-straight gold medal.
Source : TSN