Women's basketball: Ja to unleash foreigners at C'wealth Games
Invitees Jamaica will be able to field a strong overseas-based female basketball contingent at the April 4-5 Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast due to rule changes. Coach Oneil Brown said the rules governing the tournament give Jamaica a very good chance of doing well.
Jamaica's women were invited to the Commonwealth Games for the first time ever by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF). They join seven other teams including automatic qualifiers and top-ranked Australia, Canada, England and Mozambique.
Invitees include Jamaica, New Zealand, Mozambique and India. Jamaica have been grouped alongside India, Malaysia and New Zealand.
Under FIBA rules, each country is allowed one naturalised player. However, at the Commonwealth Games, there are no restrictions on players, as long as they have family ties to the country being represented. Brown believes this will work in Jamaica's favour.
"We are doing it the right way and we are very optimistic we will do well. The local ladies have been practising from last October, are very optimistic and ready to go. This is the best team we can have on paper because there are no restrictions. With FIBA rule, you can only use one naturalised player, but with this competition you can use any player once they have Jamaican parentage.
"That will really makes a difference, so we have approached some players overseas. A lot of them are playing in different countries but they will be cleared in time for the tournament, so we are looking to have a camp in February, for two weeks, to bring in the foreigners. We will have our camp and two weeks before the competition we'll pick the team," he said.
Brown is confident the quality of the players are more than capable of getting past the teams in the first round.
"We have quality, six or seven players from overseas. We know these players. We have scouted them and some of them have played with us in tournaments already, so when we look at our zone I think we can qualify and do well. Our chances are great, but we are going to take it one country at a time and, by the end of February, we should know what our chances are. On paper our chances are great," he said.
Brown, however, said support is needed to realise the dream.
"We need corporate Jamaica to come on board, get everything going and some little things ironed out. To gather everybody takes money, because you have to fly them in for the tournament. The association is not flush with cash, so some players are trying to make the sacrifice, especially those who work, because you have two or three who work and don't play overseas."