By Chuck Schilken Los Angeles Times
The U.S. national basketball team won’t be making its first trip to Africa as planned later this month.
The visit to Senegal scheduled for Aug. 27 has been canceled because of the Ebola outbreak that has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people in West Africa during the last six months.
Senegal has no suspected cases of the virus but its location near countries that have been afflicted left the team with no choice, said USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo, who added that the organization conferred with officials from the World Health Organization and the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“When they declare a public emergency like they did, we didn’t have any other choice, disappointed as we are that we’re not going to go,” Colangelo said.
The U.S. team – which features such stars as Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, James Harden and Rudy Gay – had planned to conduct a joint clinic with the Senegal national team as well as tour Goree Island and attend a reception with the country’s government.
Instead, the team will remain in Spain ahead of the World Cup of Basketball, which begins Aug. 30 in that country.
“We feel really badly about it, disappointed about it because I think our whole group – players, coaches, staff – were thinking it was going to be a terrific experience top to bottom,” said Colangelo, who added that the U.S. team will explore future opportunities to visit Africa.
The U.S. will face Brazil in an exhibition game at the United Center in Chicago on Saturday.