Great Britain women’s coach Chema Buceta wants to avoid the long-haul option for February’s Olympic basketball qualification tournament.

Having earned a shot at Tokyo 2020 with a surprise run to the semi-finals of last summer’s EuroBasket, his team will be in the third pot of seeds in Wednesday’s draw among the 16 countries to be split into four groups of four.

Three pools will be hosted close to home in Bourges, Ostende and Belgrade with the Chinese city of Foshan arguably providing the least appealing option.

But with each group offering either two or three berths at the Olympics, Buceta concedes avoiding big guns like the USA or Australia would massively help GB’s bid to snare one of the ten places up for grabs, especially with minimal preparation time in prospect.

“The travelling is important but I think the main factor is the opponents,” the Spaniard said. “I’d prefer to play in China with weaker teams than in Europe with stronger teams.

“But of course, the problem is that the February window is very short for European teams. I was in China in the summer and they invited us to play preparation games in January. It was not possible to do that.

“Asian teams will stop their competitions to prepare for the Olympic qualifiers while European teams will only have a very few days to prepare. That is a problem for everybody. And if you have to travel far away, that is worse.”

GB, currently at their highest-ever ranking of 18th in the world, have secured some UK Sport funding for their Olympic quest. With additional backing at a premium, Buceta acknowledges that reaching Tokyo could transform a sport which has habitually under-performed.

But, he said: “I think we have to enjoy this experience. Let’s see if we have a little luck with teams who are not as strong … then let’s see if we can prove ourselves. That’s the most important thing – to get one of the spots for the Olympic Games.”

Watch the draw live on MVP from 1pm on Wednesday


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