2017 PROMISES REVOLUTION, GB THREAT

British basketball chiefs have been warned to get their act together – or face being knocked out of the running for the 2020 Olympic Games by the summer of 2017.

The sport’s governing body, FIBA, have unveiled full details of their new schedule and while the current system remains in place in the lead-up to EuroBasket 2017, with qualification games set for August 2016, a failure to reach those finals could have far reaching consequences.

Following those championships, a 32-nation Division A group, compromising the teams at the 2017 Europeans – plus eight further teams to be determined through an additional qualifying tournament.

That group will battle out for berths at the 2019 World Cup in China and at Tokyo 2020. The remainder, condemned to Division B, will be ruthlessly excluded from that process with no chance of promotion until after 2020 and the next continental championships.

The new British Basketball Federation is due to come into being next summer, taking over control of the Great Britain teams, but there are concerns the new body is not moving swiftly enough to clear out a structure which is deemed to have failed and build something new and effective.

“They cannot carry on the way they did before,” said one senior FIBA source. “They have done nothing since the Olympics.”

From 2017, international windows will be inserted into the club calendar in November and February in the race to earn spots at the World Cup in China and the following year’s Olympics.

Despite FIBA’s expectation that players based across the Atlantic will be available for games in June and September, the change means that GB – who failed to reach this summer’s EuroBasket finals – will have to do without their NBA or US college-based stars for at least half their qualifiers.

And it would effectively rule out current senior men’s play caller Joe Prunty, currently the lead assistant with Milwaukee Bucks, from continuing in the post beyond 2017 if he retains a job in the NBA.

More strategically, the move, it is expected, will push national federations to generate additional income through regular competitive games at home as well as simplifying the international pyramid.

“We want to create a simple and understandable system,” said FIBA Europe director Kamil Novak. “Having more home qualification games will allow national federations to grow their game and generate more revenues. But it also means they will have more responsibility.”

NBA exclusion

The flip side is that strong countries, the USA, Canada and France foremost, will have to negotiate their way to major tournaments without consistent help from their NBA players, in what is effectively a bargain struck by FIBA and the North American behemoth to reduce the summer workload on leading stars.

“The existence of the NBA is a reality so we have to find a way to co-exist and to work together to find solutions,” FIBA’s sports and competitions director Predrag Bogosavljev said.

“By making the change in the system, it is a choice between having the best NBA players at our final tournaments or not. The NBA was close to killing this possibility for all the players. This is a solution that has been developed with their support – with the NBA Deputy Commissioner sitting on the FIBA Board. And we hope this cooperation will continue.”

In other news

– FIBA Europe is set to name a host for EuroBasket 2017 in December with detailed criteria to be published later this week. From 2021, it will be re-named “FIBA EuroBasket Cup” with 24 teams over 16 days, with qualifiers divided into Division A and B in 2019-21.

– The draw for 2019 World Cup qualifiers will take place in May 2017. That World Cup will comprise: 12 teams from Europe, 7 from Americas, 5 from Africa, 7 from Asia (plus hosts China).

– Oceania will still get a guaranteed berth at the Olympic Games from 2020 onwards despite a merger with Asia in the World Cup qualifying. Tokyo 2020 will also have four Olympic Qualifying Tournaments, in addition to teams earning places via the 2019 World Cup.

fiba schedyule

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