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Refugee’s NBA dreams dashed after arrest by immigration authorities

A promising basketball player who arrived in Canada as a refugee has had his sporting dreams shattered, after he was accused by immigration authorities of lying about his age.

Jonathon Nicola arrived in Ontario from South Sudan in November, under a programme for refugees called Canada Homestay.

According to the Windsor Star, Nicola, has been arrested for violating the Immigration Refugee Protection Act, and is thought to be 30-years-old.

Since arriving in Canada, Nicola has been posing as a 17-year-old student, with his application for the scheme supported the coach of the basketball team at Catholic Central High School in Windsor.

Peter Cusumano took Nicola under his wing, allowing him to stay in his home after another Sudanese player, Deng D’Awol, brought him to his attention.

The pair helped Nicola move from South Sudan, believing they had a possible future NBA star on their hands.

The Detroit Pistons, who are based near Windsor, donated clothing and equipment for Nicola to use.

The Canadian Border Services Agency confirmed on Wednesday it had arrested Nicola and he still remains in custody, with another hearing next week.

There have been many cases in sport of players and even teams lying about their age.

In 1989, Nigeria were banned by FIFA from taking part in their youth tournaments because they had been fielding over-age players.

Tanguy Ngombo is a Congo-born Qatari citizen who has played basketball internationally for Qatar.

Back in 2011 he was drafted 57th overall by the Dallas Mavericks, before being traded to the Portland Trailblazers and then the Minnesota Timberwolves.

At the time he claimed he was born in 1989, but it subsequently emerged that back in 2005 he was listed as being born in 1984, which would make him 27 ñ much too old for the NBA draft.

Knocking years off your age to benefit in sport is one thing, but Danny Almonte took a different approach in the 2001 Little League World Series.

After striking out 18 of the 21 batters he faced, MLB teams began to show an interest but doubts soon emerged over Almonte’s real age.

It quickly came to light that just before immigrating to the US from the Dominican Republic a year earlier, his dad had chopped a couple of years off his age.

The supposed 12-year-old was actually 14 at the time of his ‘stunning’ performance, meaning he wasn’t quite the phenomenon he appeared to be.

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