U.S. national men’s basketball team cancels Senegal trip over Ebola concerns
LOS ANGELES — USA Basketball has cancelled the national team’s trip to Senegal because of concerns over the deadly Ebola outbreak, the federation chairman confirmed on Friday.
The men’s team, stocked with NBA stars, had been scheduled to visit Africa for the first time on August 27, with a day of basketball clinics, tours and other functions planned in the capital Dakar.
Although Senegal is not one of the countries so far afflicted in West Africa, Jerry Colangelo said its position bordering Guinea and Dakar’s role as a gateway to West Africa “heightened our concern,” Colangelo told the sports website ESPN.com.
Medical charity MSF said the Ebola epidemic is moving faster than authorities can handle and could take six months to bring under control.
The warning came a day after the World Health Organization said the scale of the epidemic had been vastly underestimated and that “extraordinary measures” were needed to contain the killer disease.
The UN health agency said the death toll from the worst outbreak of Ebola in four decades had now climbed to 1,145 in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
The U.S. team’s stop in Dakar was to follow an exhibition game against Slovenia on August 26 on Spain’s Gran Canaria island.
The United States open their FIBA World Cup campaign against Finland in Bilbao, Spain, on Aug. 30.
The FIBA World Cup – formerly the World Championships – will take place August 30 to Sept. 14.
[Image: U.S. national men’s basketball team member Rudy Gay, via USA Basketball official Facebook page]