Not good news for the Cameroonian basketball team and Africa overall, but this beginning of summer turned Joel Embiid into a French citizen who can now play for Vincent Collet’s squad. What a great announcement for France if you imagine a team with Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, Nicolas Batum and Joel Embiid at the same time!
The Cameroonian (and now French) center from Philadelphia acquired the French nationality early this summer (July 5) but he still needs a FIBA license to be eligible to play for France. Just a matter of time, and no doubt that Vincent Collet will summon him in the next few months for the qualifiers for the 2023 World Cup and the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. Among the best players in the NBA for a while, Embiid could have made a nice pair in Cameroon with Pascal Siakam (Toronto) as a teammate, but this opportunity took lead in the wing.
If France can feel blessed to potentially rely on such a good player, Cameroon and Africa can start to wonder whether their best elements are condemned to leave and play for Western nations. This is not something new, and some basketball players already made the choice to play for a country they do not especially belong to: take the Americans playing for Eastern Europe teams for instance. But this is a different story since Team USA does not really need them.
This loss for Cameroon and Africa raises the question of the quality of the environment in African teams. Embiid himself pointed out this specificity, arguing that he loved his country and wanted to play for Cameroon first provided the environment was good enough to enable him to be healthy and relieved. The medical setting must follow, and the Sixers are relying on Embiid and investing a lot of money on him. They need a qualitative medical context for their players, and this is not the case with Cameroon (according to Embiid himself).