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Great Britain hope for wildcard to World Championships

GB coach Chris Finch
Chris Finch has coached GB for the past four seasons

Great Britain would welcome a wildcard entry for the 2010 World Championships in Turkey, with a decision due on Sunday ahead of Tuesday's 24-team draw.

But coach Chris Finch is confident GB will play at the 2012 Olympics, even if they have to go through European qualifying next season instead.

Four teams, two or three of them from Europe, will gain Worlds wildcards.

"I want us to continue playing against the best competition," said Finch. "The World Championship would be fantastic."

He added: "It's not that I'm a basketball snob, though. I have no problems with us going back to proving ourselves in the qualifying rounds [for the 2011 European Championships] if that's what we have to do."

If Fiba's looking for something new and want to help the game and the effort towards the Olympics then we're the obvious choice

GB coach Chris Finch

World governing body Fiba has said Great Britain must prove themselves in order to gain a 2012 Olympic spot but has not made exact criteria public.

GB has a better chance of demonstrating their ability against the best in the world in Turkey but their chances of being awarded a wildcard look remote.

Traditional European powerhouses Russia, Lithuania and Germany all failed to qualify for the Worlds from this summer's EuroBasket finals in Poland and would need a wildcard to play in Turkey.

Officials at Fiba have remained tight-lipped about the destination of the wild cards, although it is known that a fifth European team, Italy, have also applied for one.

"All those countries are deserving but we offer something different," said Finch.

"We have our NBA players too. If Fiba's looking for something new and want to help the game and the effort towards the Olympics then we're the obvious choice."

Finch is now in his first season in the NBA Development League as coach of the Grand Rapids Vipers, a feeder team for the Houston Rockets.

That means he is able to keep a close eye on GB's NBA players Luol Deng and Pops Mensah-Bonsu, along with British-born Ben Gordon, who has yet to play for the team but says he wants to in future.

Mensah-Bonsu, now with Toronto, started the season with the Rockets but was cut from the team after just three games.

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"I know the management in Houston really valued him and didn't want to let him go," reported Finch. "It was an ownership decision based on money and in this economy everyone's carrying less guys.

"I'm glad he's back in Toronto because that's also an organisation that values him highly."

GB successfully qualified for EuroBasket in 2008, the first time a home national team had made the European finals in 28 years.

They lost all three of their first-round matches in Poland last summer but their three opponents in the 'Group of Death' all reached the semi-finals.

They would be among the second seeds for next summer's qualifiers.

"No one gave us much chance originally - our group being so tough. And then that rang true when the tournament got to the semi-finals and our entire group was sitting there," added Finch.

And he remains confident that GB will be hosting in 2012, saying: "I have confidence in our management - they've been doing all that's required of them by Fiba.

"I don't think it's a question of what we have to do, I just wonder how we stack up against some other programmes.

"We're getting pretty close to decision time so I would expect they (Fiba) must know which way they're going to lean."



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see also
GB's Mensah-Bonsu rejoins Raptors
18 Nov 09 |  Basketball
Rockets release GB's Mensah-Bonsu
13 Nov 09 |  Basketball
Pops return strengthens GB hopes
02 Sep 09 |  Basketball
GB face Euro inquest
15 Sep 09 |  Basketball
Serbia defeat ends GB challenge
09 Sep 09 |  Basketball


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