Nationalized players are not uncommon in basketball, but there are limitations. Nick Weiler-Babb strengthens Germany, he is not the only ex-Ludwigsburger.
Paolo Rink or Sean Dundee – wasn’t there something? Some soccer fans may remember these names because they became German internationals as a result of the Brazilian and South African native gaining German citizenship. Although the sports career was quite sandy then. It could look different with a certain Nick Weiler-Babb. He plays basketball and is currently doing very well in the European Championships. The American-born naturalized just in time and will play his seventh international match against the Slovenians this Tuesday (8.30pm). The German association had campaigned for the former professional from MHP giants Ludwigsburg, just like his current club FC Bayern Munich, who will benefit from this in the league as the 26-year-old no longer falls under the foreigner quota.
The commitment came about for athletic reasons, because there is hardly an oversupply in the position of a strong defensive playmaker, and Weiler-Babb has proven to be a reinforcement in the league. This is how national coach Gordon Herbert sees it: “Nick was excited from the start about the opportunity to play in Germany. He’s a great guy who fits in well with the national team.”
There is no doubt about it. In the three years he has played in the BBL, he has always stood out as an impeccable sportsman: “The long-term prospect of the European Championships in Germany, hopefully the World Cup, the Olympics, appeals to me enormously,” says Weiler-Babb, who by the way has German roots thanks to his grandmother. But it is more of an emotional issue because international rules do not require such a family bond. According to this, teams can use one player per tournament who has not been naturalized until after their 16th birthday. DBB was last strengthened in 2008 with the native American Chris Kaman. Wolfgang Brenscheidt, the general secretary of the German Basketball Association, once said on Deutschlandfunk about the “foreigner issue”: “We can live well with the Fiba rules, because only one player is allowed to play.” Unlike in handball, where Qatar , for example, is responsible for the 2015 Home World Cup – according to the applicable rules – invested a lot of money to buy sports success with players from all over Europe, which then also succeeded in silver.
The Germans are not alone in basketball – on the contrary. And it seems almost strange that former Ludwigsburg players are always there. Like, for example, Jonah Radebaugh, who left the club for Spain after a strong season in the summer, but after a while took Montenegrin citizenship and also played in the Balkan country. In the World Cup qualifying match against France, he immediately scored the winning shot with a three-pointer. However, he is now out of the European Championships. Instead, those in charge of the association trust another American professional, Kendrick Perry. Background: A country can have several naturalized players, but only one can name in a major tournament. Radebauh, called Dzona Radebau in his new home country, could have been the bane of Valencia’s play in the future, in the Euroleague. It does not stay in the official time window of the world association Fiba, so the player intervenes in other international matches in the important World Cup qualifier.
It could also hit Smith
This could also affect Jaleen Smith, Ludwigsburg’s 2021 MVP, who has been playing for Alba Berlin since last season – and now also in Croatia. The player has no family connections there, just a busy manager with a good network in the Balkans. In any case, his “switching strategy” was well received and Smith restored confidence. At the beginning of the European Championship against Greece, he scored 23 points as the best Croatian, but was unable to prevent a narrow 85:89 loss.
But not all professionals are so willing to change. Look at Yusuf Nurkic. The NBA pro from Germany’s group opponent Bosnia-Herzegovina was rumored to want to play in Croatia in the future. This is only half the truth. He is expected to be granted citizenship in recognition of his charity work in Zagreb and Zadar, where he played basketball before his NBA career. But Nurkic stressed: “Bosnian national team supporters have nothing to worry about.” He continues to play in his official home country. The change also offers another benefit. This makes the 28-year-old an EU citizen and allows him to enjoy more unrestricted freedom of movement. Sounds pragmatic, not political.