Great Britain will face more competition than expected at next year’s Eurobasket, after FIBA voted to expand the tournament from 16 to 24 teams.

The decision, made Istanbul on Sunday, comes after Team GB secured a spot after going 6-2 in the qualification stage this summer.

The tournament had been due to expand to 24 teams in 2013, but FIBA Europe accepted a request from the Lithuanian federation to make the move early.

“The expansion is meant to follow the rapid development of European Basketball,” said FIBA Europe secretary general Nar Zanolin.

“Proof for this development can be found at the FIBA World Championship where nine of the 10 participating European teams advanced from the preliminary round to participate in the eight-finals.”

It means Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Georgia, Italy, Latvia, Poland and Ukraine will now also qualify for the finals with the three last-placed teams - Finland, Hungary and Portugal – playing for two spots out of the Additional Qualification Round in 2011.

FIBA Europe have already come under fire for the timing of the move – 2 weeks after the qualification process, under the original rules, finished up.

Hmmmmm. Thoughts, anyone?

Women’s Changes

FIBA Europe announced on Monday that, at a meeting in Istanbul the FIBA Europe Executive Committee, together with a majority of the FIBA Europe board members, decided to amend the system of competition for EuroBasket Women.

The EuroBasket Women Final Round will still be played with 16 teams in the future but the system of Qualification with Division A and B has been abolished.

According to the changes done for EuroBasket Men 2013, all teams will play for a spot in the EuroBasket Women Final Round 2013 starting in the summer of 2012.

“We are happy to announce that now every country has the possibility to qualify two times for a EuroBasket Final Round every term.” said FIBA Europe President Olafur Rafnsson.

As this makes a Relegation Round in 2011 obsolete, it has been decided to extend the number of teams in the Additional Qualification Round 2011 to ten.

The ten teams will be divided into two groups with five teams and play a tournament in one of the participating countries next year before Eurobasket Women.

Both groups will play a round robin system with the respective group-winners advancing to a decisive game.

The winner of this game, which will be played in Poland, three days prior to EuroBasket Women 2011 will take part in the Final Round. “This gives all teams something to play for next summer” commented FIBA Europe Secretary General Nar Zanolin.

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