Basketball Scotland has taken the controversial step of opting not to enter national teams in next summer’s FIBA European Championships.

The decision means that both the senior and under-age sides will be held out of competitive action until 2012.

The move has come under fire already with one existing coach describing it as a “disgrace”.

However bosses at the governing body have insisted that it is the right move in the long-term.

“We feel our teams aren’t getting the competition they need in the C Division but they’re not strong enough yet to compete at B,” said Basketball Scotland chief executive Kevin Pringle (left).

“But we want to see selected teams move up to the higher level so we’ll take next summer to get ready for it.

“So the focus then for Under-18s will be to Euro B in 2012 and we’re aiming to provide our Under-16s with the standard of competition they will face at Euro B level.

With Great Britain internationals unavailable under FIBA rules, Scotland’s senior men’s and women’s line-ups are likely to continue in Europe’s bottom tier, Pringle confirmed.

The strategy has come in for sharp criticism from outgoing Scotland Under-18 coach Donna Finnie, who believes it will wreck progress made to date in a system that delivered five players into the GB senior squads last summer.

And Finnie, who recently left her national post for a coaching position at Houston Baptist University, is accusing the governing body of making the changes without sufficient consultation.

“This is a blanket decision that appears irrational,” she said. “The line about taking a year to prepare for Euro B is inexplicable. The only way to prepare for it is to step up and compete at that level, end of.

“If we continue to let our kids off the hook and play lower-level opposition, they and the coaches will never learn or get better. The only way you can simulate what you get at Euro B is to be there – playing friendlies is just not the same.

“Unless sportscotland have changed the funding criteria and they require wins at Euro B, I do not understand this decision whatsoever.”

The strategy is complicated by the current discussions between the three home nations in Britain over a potential merger. There remains the prospect, following the 2012 Olympic Games, that a single national GB side will be fielded at all levels if no opt-outs to retain separate English, Welsh and Scottish teams in youth competitions are permitted by FIBA Europe.

Yet Pringle insisted that the move to sit out next summer was not influenced by the possible loss of independence for Scotland.

“It wasn’t a factor in the decision,” he stated.

Basketball Scotland are presently advertising for national coaching positions to carry out what it is described as a “refreshed focus.”

In its advert, the body asserts that the changes will “allow closer collaboration with GB regarding coaching standard, technical and tactical style and programme design.”

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