The draw for FIBA EuroBasket 2011 Qualifying Round games in the men’s and women’s competitions is over, and the reactions are pouring in.
The men’s half will consist of three groups of five teams each. Group A has Finland, Israel, Italy, Latvia and Montenegro; Group B is Bosnia & Herzegovina, Great Britain, Hungary, FYR Macedonia and Ukraine; while Group C squares off Belgium, Bulgaria, Georgia, Poland and Portugal.
Naturally, following the draw, all quotebooks were open with plenty of comments filling FIBAEurope.com cyberspace today.
Team Great Britain coach Chris Finch, citing his team’s last performance in a “group of death” scenario, stated confidently that “With everyone available and the ability to prepare for this campaign correctly, I see no reason why we can’t be one of the main contenders for qualifying.” Good man, Finch! Now get to it before the 2012 London Games, there’s a good fellow.
Meanwhile, groupmate Finland’s coach Henrik Dettmann said “Wow!” OK, so he said a bit more than that in the face of his team’s suddenly precipitous rise in the world of international basketball…
Ukraine Basketball Federation national team director Hennady Zashchuk put a generally brave face on things and, uh, promised to have a new head coach by February 15. Hopefully.
On the women’s side, it shakes out like so. Division A, Group A is Belgium, Croatia, Italy, Lithuania and the Netherlands; Group B is Israel, Latvia, Romania and Serbia; Group C has Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Montenegro and Turkey; while Group D has Germany, Great Britain, Slovakia and Ukraine competing.
Division B, Group A is Norway, Slovenia, Sweden and Portugal; Group B has Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovia, Estonia, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.
And in Division C, Group A has Andorra, Armenia, Gibraltar and Moldova; Group B sports Azerbaijan, Malta, Scotland, and Wales.
Finally, the emphatic quote of the week was clearly that of Team Ukraine’s Olexandra Gorbunova, who, despite some question marks, loves her side’s chances in this competition:
“I checked the result of the draw online and I think that we have to advance from our group. It is not the toughest group and it’s also good we only have four teams.
“Unfortunately, we still don’t know who our coach will be and who is going to be invited to play, but provided our leagues don’t have another conflict and all the players are allowed to play for the national team, we should advance.
“We played all these teams numerous times and we know them very well. I don’t think they are going to dramatically change their rosters or strategy, so it’s definitely going to be to our advantage.”
Well, all right, then. Pencil in Ukraine to advance.