FIBA has cleared reigning T1 League Rookie of the Year Mohammad al Bachir Gadiaga to play for Taiwan as a homegrown player, the Chinese Taipei Basketball Association (CTBA) announced Tuesday.
The New Taipei CTBA DEA small forward, known to local fans as "Abbasi" (???), has lived in Taiwan since the age of 8 and received Taiwanese citizenship in 2020.
Although current FIBA rules state only one player who has obtained legal nationality after the age of 16 can be included on a national team roster, the CTBA said in a statement Tuesday that Abbasi had been granted an exemption.
As a result, the former Shih Hsin University standout will be considered "homegrown" for the purposes of international tournaments, and will no longer have to compete with American-born William Artino for Taiwan's sole naturalized player slot.
According to the CTBA, Abbasi represented Taiwan as a naturalized player in 2021 in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.
Abbasi, who did not play organized basketball until senior high school, shined during his three years with Shih Hsin University, turning the then-University Basketball Association (UBA) D2 team into a D1 title contender.
In his last season in the UBA, Abbasi averaged 16.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.9 steals per game as he led Shih Hsin University to the runner-up spot in the UBA finals.
He cut his college career short to turn professional with the New Taipei DEA in 2021, going on to be named Rookie of the Year and All T1 First Team in the T1 LEAGUE's inaugural 2021-22 season.
In the DEA's game against the Taoyuan Leopards on Nov. 19, 2022, Abbasi almost stole the show in former NBA superstar Dwight Howard's Taiwan debut by logging 51 points.
In the league's first-ever All-Star Game on Feb. 28, he was also one of the most popular hoopers, finishing second only to the eight-time NBA All-Star Howard in the public vote.
Abbasi, 24, will be able to represent Taiwan as soon as this September's Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
The 30-year-old Artino, now playing for the Hsinchu Jko Lioneers of the P.LEAGUE+ (PLG), is ineligible to play in Hangzhou due to rules barring naturalized players who have lived in the country they are representing for less than three years.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel