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Page last updated at 20:42 GMT, Friday, 22 May 2009 21:42 UK

Expansion proposal offers GB hope

LeBron James of USA and Felipe Reyes of Spain
Basketball is now one of the biggest draws at the Olympics

Basketball's world governing body, Fiba, has asked the International Olympic Committee to increase the size of its 2012 tournaments to 16 teams.

Fiba secretary-general Patrick Baumann believes the game's popularity justifies a bigger tournament.

The move would be a boost to Great Britain's teams, neither of whom are guaranteed a place in the London Games.

The move would benefit GB's women, whose recent reprieve from relegation keeps them in the hunt to play in 2012.

Baumann said that basketball will campaign for the change under the slogan 'Not Bigger But Stronger' on the basis that the world game has greater depth than ever before.

"The game has exploded and it's time to recognise that," said Baumann. "Our world championship is for 24 countries and we could easily play with 32."

Although the men's and women's tournaments would have four more teams each, a format of four groups of six teams would cut two days from the current schedule of two groups of six teams.

The Olympic tournament was expanded to 12 men's teams in 1976 - the year the women's tournament made its debut with eight teams.

The IOC's Executive Board is expected to decide on the proposal at its meeting in Berlin in August.

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