It’s decision time, FIBA secretary-general Patrick Baumann has declared. And with the vote on Great Britain’s Olympic place just six weeks away, there are still issues to be resolved.

Foremost, he hinted, England, Scotland and Wales will likely have to give up their statuses as separate countries in order for Team GB to gain an automatic berth at London 2012.

The 22-strong Central Board of FIBA is scheduled to meet in Lyon next month to vote on a proposal which would see basketball fall in line with other sports on the issue of host entries for the Games.

As part of the negotiation process, Baumann has already ordered British Basketball officials to produce a detailed legacy plan which would set out how the sport will be managed in the future.

“That’s now a work in progress and that’s a key element,” he told MVP.

“The other relates to the sport’s performance. We know and understand now where the GB men’s and women’s teams are from a competitive standpoint. Within the legacy standpoint, there are still many questions.

“There has been quite a lot of progress. Firstly, the home countries, which are single member federations, have met and had extensive consultations. They’ve been in discussions with UK Sport and the home sports councils. There’s a lot been going on. Now it has to boil down to a clear outcome and legacy commitment which can be presented to the board.”

Will Luol Deng and Pops Mensah Bonsu be playing at the London Olympics or watching on?

Regardless, Baumann is adamant that the special status that currently allows the home nations to combine at senior level, while retaining their individual votes, cannot continue beyond next year.

How that dilemma is resolved, he acknowledged, will be one of several factors which will be on the minds of the board members. Some will act in pure self-interest. Others will focus on the successes achieved on the court. Others will key in on the politics.

“Right now, the three home nations are members of FIBA,” he underlined. “So we respect them and we are very proud to have them as members. We just think they need to understand what is the best governance and organisation for the sport in Britain.

“We all have opinions and it may vary on the Central Board. But they need to decide and take full advantage of having the Games in your country to take basketball to the next level. They will have to choose an option, whatever that is and present it to the Board. And the Board will take a view on that choice.

“I don’t know if (British basketball) will go with one or three. But it will be difficult to go with an exceptional situation where we will go with three federations but keep Team GB.”

Could GB women be left out? (

With both Great Britain’s men and women preparing for Eurobasket finals this summer, the initial demand for competitiveness has been satisfied, at least. However, while it has always been assumed that the two national sides would be inseparable in pressing the Olympic case, it might not be so simple.

The vote could give solely the men the green light to prepare for 2012. Or do likewise for the women. Or both. Or neither, Baumann confirmed.

“Both options are possible,” he underlined.

“I can’t answer now what will be discussed at the board meeting. The competitiveness of the two teams is probably different. But we’d like to treat both equally. We’ll have to listen to the basketball experts.”

So, if nothing else, the waiting will end in Lyon on the weekend of March 12-13. Britain’s leading players, male and female, will go into their respective Eurobaskets knowing whether they are Olympic-bound or whether they must finish in the top five to realise their greatest dreams.

Right? Hold on. As with most politics, there is a third way.

Baumann confirmed that an alternative option might exist to grant Britain a place in next year’s Additional Qualifying Tournament. Four Olympic places for men, and six for women, will be reserved for those whose consolation prize from this summer is one final shot.

It may be where GB, bar a surprise showing in Lithuania and Poland, could be shunted in a messy compromise.

“That is an option which exists because it is possible,” Baumann admitted.“I can’t exclude it.”

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