The President of Burundi Basketball Federation Jean Paul Manirakiza alongside the New Star’s team delegation vowed to appeal against International Basketball Federation (FIBA) decision to eliminate the country’s basketball team from securing the qualification to the Basketball Africa League (B.A.L) tournament that will take place in Dakar, Cairo and Kigali from 5 March – 28 May 2022.
In a statement issued by FIBA at least four New Star players tested positive for Corona Virus and two members from the delegation, “there have been also contact tracing and members were put in isolation and excluded from the competition,” the statement reads.
“Considering the covid-19 protocol of FIBA and putting in mind that this pauses a higher risk to other players to be infected FIBA decided to exclude the New Star delegation from the ongoing competition,” reads part of the letter dated December 11th 2021.
“We are prepared to file complaints formally. We do not intend to stop ourselves at this appeal. Our voice will go further. Hoping that this injustice will never happen to someone else again” said Jean Paul Manirakiza
The Burundi Basketball Federation (FEBABU) chairman said that they have already demanded that the match between New Star and Cape Town Tigers be played on a neutral ground, arguing some members who were said to test positive the results after retesting indicated they were covid-19 free.
During a press conference, the vice President of New Star basketball team Mélance Bukera said that the unfolding of events was the day before the game between New Star and Cobra Sport, and New Star players did the polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test due to some players testing positive for Covid-19.
“We asked them to give us some quick tests so that we could reassure ourselves and did the same to the members of the opposing team. Our request was granted,” said Mélance.
“We only had 5 players left which means we didn’t have a replacement,” he added.
“Our five remaining players were the only ones on the field performing exercises It was afterwards that we learned that we had been given a forfeit yet we were the only ones there,” Mr. Melance.
At Wembley stadium in Johannesburg the first game was played between New Star and Cape Town Tigers with the visitors putting out an incredible performance against the hosts.
With New Stars winning the game by a 12 points margin, the second match featured New Star and Zambia’s Matero Magic. As New Star pulled out a victory thanks to Rwandan-born Kenny Gasana scoring 28 points, that gave the New Star a life line.
Hopes began to crumble when New Star lost its third game to Cobra Sport (76-79) despite a good performance from Orly Jordy Ndagijimana, Burundi’s team was left to fight for third place for next year’s tournament.
But New Star’s hopes were dealt with a huge blow as the Burundian team learned that they couldn’t proceed to play the semi-final match on Saturday 11/12.