Finland is playing in the FIBA World Cup this summer. Sure they are the 39th ranked team in the world and FIBA chose them as a wild card instead of China, Russia (2012 Olympic bronze medalists) and Germany, but Finland travels well and will sell more tickets at the gate. And isn’t that what international basketball really should be about?
Anyway, the Wizards’ Drew Gooden’s father, a former professional basketball player, met his mother while playing in Finland. Which because she had citizenship in Finland made Gooden eligible to get it, which would make him eligible to play for Finland in the World Cup…
Not so fast. The paperwork to grant Gooden dual citizenship will not be ready in time, reports Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. Gooden’s name was not on the 12-man roster Finland submitted to FIBA.
Gooden said he had been to Finland many times but didn’t apply for the dual citizenship until April, that was not early enough for the paperwork to get done.
In an interview before the plan fell apart, Gooden told the Post he still would go to cheer on the Finnish team in Spain at the tournament.
“If something happens and there’s a bump in the road where this is not possible this year, I’m still going to be going there and supporting the team, supporting the players in Spain and start to build a relationship for the future for years to come,” Gooden said. “Either way you want to see it, I’m still going to get my dual citizenship and I am going to become a Finnish citizen, whether I’m playing on the team or not, eventually.”
Finland could, in theory, qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. In theory I could qualify to run the 100 meter dash for the USA in the Olympics. Only 12 teams get invites to the Olympic basketball tournament (half of the World Cup number) and it’s a much more difficult hurdle to clear just to get in.
Gooden played the second half of last season with the Washington Wizards and will return to them this season on a veteran minimum contract.