FIBA secretary-general Andreas Zagklis keenly understands the chatter surrounding Klay Thompson’s potential representation to the Bahamian national basketball team.
As he conducted his wrap-up press conference for the final day of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup this Sunday, Zagklis sided with the sentiments of many regarding Thompson’s probable entry to The Bahamas’ squad in the international competitions as it may open up leeway for the other nations to join the enticing shift.
“As a policy, I try to avoid making comments on individual eligibility cases. But I understand it,” Zagklis said.
“The rule is if you played after the age of 17, you cannot change unless specific circumstances that justify the change of you go back to your country of origin. There, we will look a number of criteria, and one of them is how long ago you played for the other country.”
During a recent partnership tour with Anta, Thompson made headlines when he declared that he would “seriously consider” playing for The Bahamas national basketball team next year. The Golden State Warriors star can trace his Bahamian roots to his father, Mychal Thompson.
Thompson already represented the United States at the senior level of international contests, helping the Stars and Stripes capture top finishes at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
“I’m indirectly trying to answer your question. But I don’t want to tell exactly how we dealt with that file or that file and how we will deal in future with the other file,” Zagklis added.
“Regarding the other part of your question, yes, we’re concerned in the sense that we can’t use this exception, which lies with the discretion of a general secretary in order to open the Pandora’s box. I have been exercising it very carefully, and I will continue doing so.”
Despite playing for the United States already, FIBA honored Eric Gordon’s intent to play for The Bahamas. Under FIBA’s Article 22 of Internal Regulations, players can’t switch affiliation to another country for major international sporting events. But the basketball federation can exercise the power to change it if the move is “deemed in the best interest of basketball” and if the player will land in a developing national program.
The sudden eligibility of the Phoenix Suns veteran boosted The Bahamas’ campaign to this year’s FIBA Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament as he aided the Caribbean nation to stamp a ticket to next year’s Olympic Qualifying Round, besting fellow countries in the Americas region including the powerhouse Argentina.
The play of Gordon for The Bahamas quickly drew plenty of questioning and criticism, most notably from Argentinian cager Andres Nocioni.
The Bahamas are set to be pitted with 23 other nations in the Olympic Qualifying tourney for the four remaining hoops tickets in next year’s Paris Games.