SHEFFIELD (Julio Chitunda's African Message) - This Yanick Moreira saga needs to reach an end before it is too late. Angola needs him for the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT).
After a short stint with Rouen Metropole Basket in the French top flight Ligue Nationale de Basket (LNB) Pro A - during which he averaged 11 points and 4.8 rebounds in four games - he returned home having played his last official game this season on 29 January.
At the time, the 2.11m center was linked to Angola powerhouses Recreativo do Libolo and Primeiro D’Agosto but ended up signing for Petro.
The trouble is that Petro had already filled in its 16-player roster beforethe deadline on 28 February.
However, Petro argues that the club waived Eduardo Ferreira, who joined Luanda-based club ASA, and as such Moreira would be eligible to fill the vacant spot. FAB did not see the argument that way, alleging that Ferreira had already played official games for Petro this season.
No one really knows what comes next for Moreira, but this week could be crucial for the future of his basketball career in Angola as FAB and local clubs have been urged by FAB's legal council to find an ad-hoc solution in the "supreme interest" of Angolan basketball, particularly the men's national team.
The Angolans will look to qualify to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics via the Belgrade OQT (4-9 July).
And Moreira, who has become a key member of the national side in recent years, would be a vital piece for the Southern Africans who will take on Puerto Rico and hosts Serbia in Group A.
The issue is so complex that when I asked Carlos Dinis, the newly-appointed head coach of the former African champions, if Moreira's current situation would undermine his future with the team, the tactician replied: "I don't want to be partial in this particular subject but when the right time comes I will be able to discuss it in more detail. Perhaps when I'll announce the preliminary squad in May we'll have more time to talk about this episode."
In the process, Moreira remains silent.
Meanwhile, here is a snapshot of his career over the last 12 months.
- After ending his Southern Methodist University (SMU) career in the second-round of the NCCA, Moreira blamed himself for the loss against UCLA. With 13 seconds remaining in the game and SMU up 59-57, the Angolan was called for goal-tending on a Bryce Alford three-point attempt, giving UCLA a 60-57 lead. The Mustangs were unable to convert multiple attempts on the following possession, and UCLA advanced. "It's all my fault," Moreira said after the game.
- After an impressive Summer League with the Los Angeles Clippers, and when the Angolans began their preparations for AfroBasket 2015, Moreira and FAB invited local press to announce his withdrawal from the national team due to a pre-season agreement with the Californians.
- Unexpectedly, in August 2015 - two weeks before the AfroBasket, Moreira rejoined the Angolans.
- In September, Moreira was ruled out of the Brooklyn Nets' training camp due to an injury.
- In November Moreira joined Rouen.
- In January, he returned home.
Whatever the future holds for the 24-year-old, one thing is certain: his professional career seems to be taking long to take off. No one can blame him for being ambitious, and hopefully he will reach a much-need stable professional career.