Despite a strong 20-man preliminary squad, Georgia have drawn strong criticism for naming two American-born players on their roster.
Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Ricky Hickman and Luke Zeller of the Phoenix Suns have been named in the Georgia team for Eurobasket in Slovenia this September, even though they have reportedly never set foot in the country itself.
Teams are allowed to have one naturalised player amongst their ranks so either one of Zeller or Hickman could be released before the Georgians head to Slovenia. But fans and writers have taken to Twitter as the news broke yesterday afternoon to add their thoughts to the situation.
Rob Scott, a blogger on our sister site EuroStep tweeted: “@robscott33 There’s no prouder Georgian than Ricky Hickman, I know he dreamed of this everyday while growing up in a village just outside of Tblisi…”
Israeli basketball writer David Pick confirmed Hickman’s inclusion as the Maccabi player, who averaged 13 points in the Euroleague last season said he would be part of the Georgian national side.
Zeller has yet to comment on his inclusion.
There were similar criticisms back in 2010 when Bo McCalebb suited up for Macedonia in their Eurobasket qualifier against Great Britain in Newcastle, despite admitting he had never visited the country itself.
The Fenerbahce guard went on to lead the Macedonians to fourth place at Eurobasket and earned himself a spot in the tournament first team.
Georgia’s squad in full:
Giorgi Tsintsadze, Anatoly Boisa, Manuchar Markoishvili, Viktor Sanikidze, Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Tornike Shengelia, Nikoloz Metreveli, Giorgi Shermadini, Otra Pkhakadze, Besik Lezhava, Duda Sanadze, Merab Bokolishvili, Revaz Rogava, Beqa Chikviladze, Levan Fatsasia, Beka Burjanadze, Richard Matiashvili, Giorgi Sharabidze, Ricky Hickman and Luke Zeller.