BRITS HANDED NIGHTMARE EUROBASKET DRAW

Great Britain’s men have learnt their fate for this summer’s Eurobasket finals – and the draw in Vilnius has handed Chris Finch’s men a nightmare passage. Group A also includes Spain, Turkey and the hosts.

It is a hellish passage for GB who will have the defending champions Spain in the first phase in Panevezys, along with Turkey and Lithuania, who finished second and third respectively in last year’s world championships.

The group was rounded out by Poland and an additional qualifier, which will be determined between Hungary, Portugal and Finland.

“The draw could have been kinder but you don’t go to a Europeans, or worlds, or Olympics and expect it to be easy,” said GB captain Drew Sullivan.

Drew Sullivan is relishing the test (wooller.com)

“You want to be tested, whether it’s individually or collectively. It’s not going to be simple. But we’ll be going in believing we have a chance.

“It might have been easier if we’d got into the third group of seeds but that’s irrelevant here.

“But I honestly believe that if we have Rob Archibald, Joel Freeland, Ben Gordon and Luol Deng, we can go up against anybody. We’ll go in with confidence whether we ended up winning or losing.”

The tournament, which also doubles as the European qualifier for the 2012 Olympics, begins on August 31.

And if GB fail to convince FIBA to award them an automatic berth for London, Finch’s side might have to reach the semi-finals in Lithuania to make the Games.

Only the top three will progress into the second phase in Vilnius with their group opener against the hosts set to be unlike anything the revamped Britain has experienced in its five-year history.

“It’s great to be playing Lithuania at home,” said GB forward Kieron Achara. “You want to play in that kind of atmosphere and I think we respond well to it.”

The Eurobasket Draw

Group A (Panevezys): Spain, Turkey, Lithuania, GREAT BRITAIN, Poland, Qualifier 2

Group B (Siauliai): Serbia, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Latvia

Group C (Alytus): Greece, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzigovina, Qualifier 1

Group D (Klaipeda): Slovenia, Russia, Belgium, Georgia, Bulgaria, Ukraine

GB schedule

August 31: GB v Lithuania

September 1: GB v Turkey

September 2: GB v Spain

September 4: GB v Qualifier

September 5: GB v Poland

Live Blog

18:40: And, finally, we’re off.

18:38: Lithuania, Latvia and Slovenia will be placed in different groups. It’s unclear why.

18:34: Finally… we’re heading to the draw. Remember Great Britain is in the fourth group of seeds. BBL refereeing legend Richard Stokes helping to conduct the draw.

18:30: Memo to those putting together the UK bid to stage Eurobasketball 2017: your chances will be enhanced if you promise to limit the draw ceremony to 1 hour.

18:26: Ron Wuotila is representing British Basketball at the draw. But first, Lithuania’s head coach Kęstutis Kemzūra, is being asked a question about the seeding to which he claims he doesn’t know the answer. He also looks as if he’s been sleeping through the ceremony. Lucky guy. Dino Meneghin is also on stage.

18:22: If Amber represents Lithuania, does this mean we’re all going to be sitting awaiting the green light for this draw? The male presenter is an actor, we’re told. How about he plays… a presenter?

18:21: There is a saying, apparently, that “Amber is Lithuanian gold.” And … that’s also the name of the Eurobasket 2011’s mascot, by a non-concidence. In other news, the Indiana Pacers have fired head coach Jim O’Brien. Rumour unconfirmed that his show was his idea.

18:20: Now President Olaf’s making a speech. Get on with it.

18:17: The hosts tell us that Lithuania has “a rich basketball heritage”. No kidding. Up next: “Water rehydrates.”

18:12: GB is represented by a karaoke version of … ‘Let It Be’. FIBA will be getting a huge bill from Sir Paul’s lawyers for this one. A cursory look at the Twittosphere suggests a continent united in its suffering.

18:10: This is truly painful. Has anyone actually tuned in to see anything other than .. The Draw? If this isn’t going to turn the public mood back in favour of a 16-team finals, nothing will.

18:05: Now onto France and Germany. Although there seems to be no clear order. Surely, we’re only moments away from Team GB. Morris and ceildh dancers perhaps?

18:00: Some execrable performances so far. Just to avoid any cliches, Greece’s entry is a rendition of Zorba The Greek.

17:50: There seems to be some suggestion that there is a musical ‘representation’ from every competing country. We might not get the draw done by midnight. No confirmation as to whether Blue is the UK entry. (Update from the BBC’s Rob Dugdale… he reckons it will be the Chris Spice Girls).

17:45: We now have a guy playing the xylophone. PA’s basketball man Ian Parker, somewhere, has just upped his record buying budget for this year in anticipation of our Lithuanian musical odyssey. I dread to think how bad those who fail the auditions at Lithuanian Pop Idol are.

17:40 Welcome to coverage of the draw in front of around  700 guests in the national theatre of Lithuania. Before we get under way, we’re getting a mini-Eurovision with “special show acts from every country participating”. That’s meant a boy band, an acrobat accompanied by a violin. And regular mentions of Arvydas Sabonis.

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