Great Britain may be forced to call up reinforcements ahead of the start of their pre-Olympic training camp this week in Houston after losing Ryan Richards and Bermuda’s Sullivan Phillips from their original 21-man squad.
Richards, drafted two years ago by the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, has stunned officials by declaring his intention to play for Jamaica. The Kent-born forward, who won 7 senior caps last year, is understood to have informed British Basketball by officials of his decision by email.
“Clearly Ryan is a talented athlete,” said British Basketball’s performance director Chris Spice.
“He’s been with both Great Britain and England for quite some time. We’re disappointed that he’s made that decision. But we have to move on.”
Some doubt has already been cast on the 21-year-old’s eligibility to switch countries under restrictive FIBA rules which, bar an appeal, tie a player once they have featured in a competitive tie at Under-20 level or beyond. It is the latest in a series of baffling career decisions by the young prospect, leaving many to wonder if he will ever fulfil his potential.
However the withdrawal of the uncapped Phillips has left officials red-faced after it was discovered he was ineligible. “After submitting the paperwork to FIBA, we found out that he’d played in a senior game for Bermuda,” said British Basketball’s performance director Chris Spice.