FOR its Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship campaign, Qatar is set to parade a naturalized player who belongs to the same 2003 NBA Rookie Class of LeBron James and Co.
Jarvis Hayes, chosen No. 10 overall by the Washington Wizards during the NBA draft a decade ago where a young 18-year-old James was the consensus No. 1 pick, has been the personal choice of new Qatari coach Tom Wisman as the team’s naturalized player for the qualifier for next year’s World Basketball Championship which kicks off on August 1 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Following a four-year stint with the Wizards, Hayes played for a season with the Detroit Pistons, and then signed up for the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets for two years until 2010.
Hayes will be arriving with the rest of the Qatari team next week.
The 32-year-old former Western California and Georgia College gunner is coming in fresh from a stint with the Elizur Ashkelon in the Israeli Winner League, where he averaged 19.5 points per game.
According to the official Fiba-Asia website, Hayes is the third player to be naturalized by Qatar in the last 12 months after Trey Johnson and Boney Watson.
It was Johnson who suited up for the team when the Qataris beat Gilas Pilipinas in the battle for the bronze medal of the Fiba-Asia Cup in Tokyo last year.
But it was Hayes whom Wisman listed as part of Qatar’s official 12-man lineup for the August 1-11 biennial meet, a report confirmed by a long-time official of the Qatari Basketball Federation.
“Yes, he is,” said Rhea Navarro, a veteran journalist and now international relations and eligibility supervisor of Qatar’s basketball association. “Any team can change any of its players before July 31. But 'yung probability na papalitan ang player is kapag na-injure lang naman.”
Qatar is bracketed in Group B along with Japan and Hong Kong, and will go up against Gilas in Group E should the two teams reach the second round of the preliminaries. Gilas is in Group A together Jordan, Chinese-Taipei and Saudi Arabia.
The top three teams from Group A and B will be bracketed in Group E during the second round, while the top three teams in Group C and D will be in Group F together.
The Qataris earned a berth in the 2006 Fiba-World Championship in Japan following a bronze medal finish in the 2005 Fiba-Asia Championship in Doha, Qatar.