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Page last updated at 14:47 GMT, Saturday, 8 November 2008

GB handed tough EuroBasket draw

Chris Finch
Chris Finch's team face their biggest challenge yet

Great Britain have been drawn against reigning world champions Spain in next year's EuroBasket finals in Poland.

GB will also face former Yugoslav nations Serbia and Slovenia in a tough opening group in Warsaw.

"There's no doubt about it, we're clearly in the toughest group," said GB coach Chris Finch. "It'll be our biggest challenge so far - no doubt."

Only the top three teams in the first-round groups will advance to the second phase of the tournament.

Last summer's heroics in winning their qualifying group meant Finch's team reached the European finals for the first time in 28 years.

They need to show consistency at the top European level to convince world governing body Fiba they are worthy of a host's spot in the 2012 Olympics.

It's going to be difficult but there's no reason to be scared of anybody

GB coach Chris Finch

But the draw in Warsaw, in which GB were one of the fourth seeds, did them few favours in their quest to establish themselves among the European elite.

World champions Spain are arguably the best team in Europe at the moment. They reached the last EuroBasket final two years ago and won an Olympic silver medal in Beijing.

Slovenia regularly qualify for the European finals and came close to securing their first Olympic berth earlier this year.

Third seeds Serbia were world champions in 2002 and won the European title five times from 1989-2001.

"They've been down but they're on the rise again a bit," noted Finch. "They seem to be going in the right direction.

"It's going to be difficult but there's no reason to be scared of anybody."

GB officials will begin finalising the team's preparation programme for next summer and will look for top-ranked European teams to play in the run-up to Poland.

"We hope to have the schedule set within the next month," said Finch. "And we've had a lot of interest from a lot of teams to play in their tournaments."


Great Britain will open their EuroBasket campaign in Warsaw against Slovenia on 7 September and will play Spain and then Serbia in the next two days.

If they make the top three in Group C, they will qualify for the second phase in Lodz against the three best teams from Group D.

The final phase of the tournament - the last eight - will be played in Katowice from 18-20 September.

If Great Britain can reach the second phase, they will stand a good chance of making the 2010 World Championships, by virtue of either a qualifying spot or as one of four other teams Fiba will invite.

EuroBasket draw:

Group A (Poznan): Greece, Croatia, Macedonia, Israel

Group B (Gdansk): Russia, Germany, Latvia, additional qualifier

Group C (Warsaw): Spain, Slovenia, Serbia, Great Britain

Group D (Wroclaw): Lithuania, Turkey, Poland, Bulgaria

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see also
GB defeat Czechs to reach Euros
17 Sep 08 |  Basketball
George sparks GB win over Israel
13 Sep 08 |  Basketball
Great Britain too good for Bosnia
10 Sep 08 |  Basketball
GB overcome Czechs for first win
06 Sep 08 |  Basketball
GB slip to Euro qualifying defeat
03 Sep 08 |  Basketball
Birmingham to host GB basketball
22 May 08 |  Basketball
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