Estonian men's national basketball team point guard Kerr Kriisa could lose eligibility for his first season in the American college league NCAA as the association has not given him a players' license. The 19-year old Arizona Wildcat is already forced to miss the first games of the season.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is home to quite a few young Estonian basketball players. While many were in competition on Thursday evening, young point guard Kerr Kriisa, the hero of Estonia's Baltic Chain Tournament triumph, is struggling to fit into the NCAA's rules on what an amateur player actually is, an issue many European players run into, as Kriisa was formerly under contract with Lithuanian team Kaunas Žalgiris.
"The NCAA is investigating if it is even possible for me to get the license. Have I done everything to get it? Am I amatuer enough to get it?" Kriisa told journalists at a virtual press conference on Thursday and added that his previous contract with Žalgiris was designated as a young player contract.
"The investigation has taken quite a while now, but last week there was a response from the NCAA, that said I certainly will not be able to play the first games. That led to a few quick decisions and they luckily allowed me to join the national team," Kriisa said.
He said he expected this course of events but was hoping for better solutions. "Once we began on getting things sorted, I knew there could be issues but deep inside, I did not believe in it as I know five guys from Žalgiris' development team who play in America. All of them had the same contract and all can play. It is a little mystical that they are messing with me like this, but yeah... That is how it is," Kriisa said.
The worst case scenario is that Kriisa could not see the court as an Arizona Wildcat at all this season. "We have gone over each option with the team and coaches. One option is that I will not play the whole season, but that is the worst case scenario. Let's hope it does not end up that way," the young national team point guard said.
Kriisa will suit up for Estonia this weekend for European qualifiers, set to be played in a "bubble" at Saku Suurhall.
Böckler, Tamm and Jurkatamm in NCAA action
The home team of Matthias Tass and Leemet Böckler, Saint Mary's Gaels, got their first victory of the season, defeating the Northern Iowa Panthers 66:64 in a mini-tournament in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Thursday, portal Korvpall24.ee reported.
Tass was in the starting line-up and collected eight points, adding three rebounds, an assist and a steal. Böckler came off the bench for nine minutes but did not add any points, missing on a three-point shot. He did add a rebound.
Taavi Jurkatamm's San Fransisco Dons defeated the Towson Tigers 79:68 in Uncasville, Connecticut. Jurkatamm started the game for 26 minutes, scoring five points, grabbing two rebounds and providing four assists, tying his NCAA career record so far.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste