Iran coach says having unlimited naturalized players ‘unfair’

The head coach of the Iran basketball team criticized the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee (HAGOC) for allowing other countries to field an unlimited number of naturalized players.

Hakan Demir emphasized the point on Monday, following the Iranians’ 84-83 loss to Gilas Pilipinas in the quarterfinals of the 19th edition of the regional tournament.

The 54-year-old native of Turkey cited the case of Gilas which he believes has around three naturalized players on its Asiad roster.

“We were in the World Cup a month ago, but now I see three naturalized, foreign players for the Philippine team. I’m not saying this because we lost,” said Demir.

Ange Kouame and Justin Brownlee are the two naturalized players of Gilas.

In basketball, the Asian Games Organizing Committee neither places a limit on naturalized players nor adheres to strict rules regarding players of mixed ethnicity.

Brownlee and Kouame are able to play for Gilas because, according to Asiad rules, a player’s passport proving his nationality is sufficient to qualify him.

In contrast, FIBA only permits one naturalized player to compete in tournaments sanctioned by the federation, which explains why Jordan Clarkson was the only naturalized player on the Gilas roster for the most recent World Cup.

However, Demir stated that the practice is unfair to teams such as Iran, which attempts to play with a local lineup in order to promote the growth of new players in the country.

“I’m just saying this because I have to defend my team. I think it’s unfair,” stressed Demir.

He has been consistent in his position as he likewise criticized the practice of hiring naturalized players during the recent FIBA World Cup in Manila.

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