Former Kenya Morans coach slams NBA star for choosing USA over his native Cameroon

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BASKETBALL Former Kenya Morans coach slams NBA star for choosing USA over his native Cameroon

Joel Omotto 12:30 - 06.10.2023

Former Kenya Morans coach Liz Mills has laid into the NBA MVP for snubbing his country of birth Cameroon and opting to represent star-studded USA at the 2024 Olympics

Former Kenya Morans coach Liz Mills has expressed her disappointment at NBA Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid’s decision to represent Team USA at the Paris 2024 Olympics over his country of birth Cameroon.

US media reported on Thursday that Embiid informed Team USA executive director Grant Hill of his decision just days after the two quietly met for close to an hour in Fort Collins, Colorado where the Philadelphia 76ers, his NBA team, are holding a training camp.

Embiid, who was born in Cameroon and holds both French and American citizenship, has been at the centre of an intense recruiting battle over which country he will represent at the Olympics and has settled on the US to help the country return to the top of the tree after finishing a disappointing fourth at the World Championships in Manila, Philippines last month.

However, Mills who coached Kenya between January 2021 and February 2022, feels Embiid missed a chance to make Cameroon and Africa’s basketball great by choosing the easier route of representing the US who are already guaranteed gold at the Paris Olympics.

“Imagine what impact he (Embiid) would have had if he had chosen Cameroon and how that what (would) have reverberated right across Africa. It would mean so much more than helping the USA win another gold medal. Very disappointing decision,” Mills, who now coaches Central African Republic club Bangui Sporting Club wrote on X.

Mills has extensive coaching experience in Africa having first started working on the continent in 2011 as the Zambia men’s national team coach before taking on roles in Cameroon and Kenya and she has also handled clubs in Rwanda and Morocco.

The Australian tactician steered Kenya to qualifying for their first AfroBasket championship in 28 years, after beating 11-time African champions Angola 74-73 in Cameroon in February 2021 at the 2021 FIBA AfroBasket Qualifiers.

She, however, quit the Morans job in a huff, later accusing some of the players of sabotaging her work through indiscipline, substance abuse and unwillingness to learn.

Seven-foot centre Embiid became a French citizen in July of 2022 and followed that by being granted US citizenship in September of last year.

The 29-year-old has spent his adult life in the United States, first as a dominant collegiate centre for the Kansas Jayhawks and then as the franchise cornerstone of the 76ers.

Team USA will be vying for a fifth consecutive gold medal at Paris next summer with Embiid joining a long list of top NBA stars who are hoping or planning to play at the Olympics, including Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Bam Adebayo, Devin Booker among others.