Fri | Sep 24, 2021

Visa woes for Samuels

Published:Thursday | June 10, 2021 | 12:12 AMRobert Bailey/Gleaner Writer

National senior men’s basketball player Samardo Samuels could be forced to miss this year’s BIG3 basketball tournament in the United States due to documentation issues.

Samuels told The Gleaner that his passport with his US visa along with his laptop and other valuables were stolen when thieves broke into his car in Italy in 2020.

The 32-year Samuels recently returned to the island from Israel where he had been plying his trade professionally, and where he managed to secure a new Jamaican passport.

However, he said that he has been advised that there are no available US visa appointment dates, which could lead to him missing out on his contract in this year’s championships, which is scheduled to begin on July 10 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

“The issue is that there is no date and the US embassy is taking no appointments,” said Samuels. “You know how the US embassy is right now, they are not taking any appointments unless it is an emergency, and the fact that I have the contract and everything, they don’t consider it an emergency.

“They have the BIG3 draft pool coming up and so I will have to be in the States for the draft, but if I don’t get this visa, then I won’t be able to be there or even play in this season’s tournament,” Samuels lamented.

Samuels, who represented the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA, pointed out that he has been in contact with the league organisers and they have promised him that they will be doing all that is possible to assist him with this matter.

“I am hopeful of getting there, but you know it is just the visa that is held up. I have spoken to Clyde Drexler, who is the president, and they are aware of the situation and they sent me a letter and everything, so it is just an appointment that is the hold-up at the embassy right now,” Samuels added.

“This is definitely a way to earn some money because with COVID-19, a lot of people are out of a job, and for them to give me an invitation and to consider me is definitely a great opportunity, and I would really like to get this job,” he said.

Samuels last played in the BIG3 tournament in 2019 with the Trilogy, which also featured former NBA stars Jason Terry and Carlos Arroyo.