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Taiwan seeking new foreign player to boost national hoops team

2019/05/15 18:11:52

Quincy Davis / CNA file photo

Taipei, May 15 (CNA) Taiwan's national basketball team is hoping to recruit a new foreign player this summer to replace the aging Quincy Davis, with a former National Basketball Association (NBA) player on the short list, a basketball official told CNA on Tuesday.

Lee Yun-hsiang (李雲翔), deputy chief of Taiwan's Chinese Taipei Basketball Association (CTBA), said former Miami Heat center Dexter Pittman has agreed to play for the national team at this summer's William Jones Cup.

The exhibition tournament being held in July will serve as a testing ground to see if Pittman could be a potential candidate to join the team as a naturalized player and represent Taiwan in future international competitions, Lee said.

Though Pittman is not currently a Taiwan citizen, he can play with the national team at the Jones Cup because it is an exhibition competition and not subject to international rules on citizenship requirements.

Pittman, 31, most recently played for the Rizing Zephyr Fukuoka in Japan's B. League.

A graduate of the University of Texas, Pittman was selected with the 32nd overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft by the Heat and played in the NBA for four years before playing overseas in Turkey, Puerto Rico, China and Japan.

The 211-centimeter American center-forward averaged 19.8 points and 8.6 rebounds a game for Fukuoka last season.

Another candidate for the job is 28-year-old American John Richard Florveus, who most recently played professionally in Slovakia, according to Lee.

Florveus played for Taiwan in the Jones Cup in 2016. He has improved his skills since then and the CTBA is willing to give him another chance to be considered as a potential candidate, Lee said.

According to Lee, both players are aware that based on Taiwanese law they would have to give up their U.S. citizenship before being granted citizenship in Taiwan to be able to represent the country in international competition.

Using naturalized citizens on national basketball teams is not uncommon in Asia, with the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Lebanon and Jordan among the many countries that have resorted to foreign players to boost their squads.

Whoever is recruited and is willing to pursue Taiwanese citizenship will likely replace Davis, who was the first naturalized player to represent Taiwan in international basketball competition.

The 203-centimeter player renounced his U.S. citizenship and obtained Republic of China (Taiwan) citizenship in 2013.

That year, Davis helped Taiwan to one of its best international performances in recent years, a top four finish at the FIBA Asia Championship for the first time since 1999 and a stunning upset of China.

He has since become a household name in Taiwan, playing a major role in making Taiwan's national team more competitive. Plagued by injury more recently, however, the 36-year-old has not played for the national team for more than a year.

His contract with the CTBA expired last year, and it has not being renewed.

The William Jones Cup, held annually in July, is an international basketball tournament that has been a fixture on Taiwan's sports calendar for more than 40 years.

(By Long Po-an and Joseph Yeh)