RIGA (2016 FIBA U17 Women's World Championship) - Latvia head coach Liga Alilujeva has spoken of her country's rare opportunity to test their credentials when they take to the court for the very first time at the FIBA U17 Women's World Championship.
Speaking in the wake of the recent draw for the event, excitement is building inside the Latvian camp as they prepare to make the most of playing opponents from around the globe.
"It will be interesting to assess our abilities, as options to play the American, Asian and African teams happen very rarely - so both the coaches and the girls will get a unique experience," mused the play-caller.
"Furthermore, it will not only be interesting, but also a sufficiently complex challenge for us as Canada won the FIBA Americas U16 Women's Championship, while Japan and Nigeria were the vice-champions of their respective continents."
Latvia have named a 23-strong initial candidate list for the tournament.
But while Alilujeva is banking on the core of last year's history-making team to reap the rewards of finishing fifth in Matosinhos last year, she insisted the door remains open to newcomers who didn't participate at the U16 European Championship Women.
"Opportunities will be given to all of the players - both those who won us this journey to the FIBA U17 Women's World Championship and those who remained outside the roster," she insisted.
"We appreciate that things change during the year, although I do not think that changes will be radical, because it last year's players who qualified the team.
"We will probably will not be at full force from day one of our preparations, because the girls will still have to complete school work.
"Meanwhile Aleksa Gulbe has been playing in Italy this season and won't return until early June."
The preliminary physical training camp will be held from 13-15 May and a full-scale preparation camp from 25 May, with the roster scheduled to be trimmed to just 15 players by 4 June - ahead of the final decisions from coach Alilujeva.
Latvia 23-player preliminary squad for 2016 FIBA U17 Women's World Championship: Amanda Berziņa, Liza Cumika, Karina Dimitruka, Diana Dude, Aleksa Gulbe, Emilija Krista Grava, Katrina Karkle, Marianna Kļaviņa, Sabine Lipe, Alise Markova, Laura Medere, Mara Mote, Rebeka Nagle, Jete Nulle, Nikola Ozola, Annija Pozņaka, Janeta Rozentale, Kecija Keita Salcevica, Luize Septe, Sindija Smirnova, Hilda Darta Snipe, Amanda Svedenberga, Ieva Timane.
photos Janos Schmidt