TARGOVISTE (EuroBasket Women) – Italy and Ukraine have clinched top spots in their respective EuroBasket Women Additional Qualifying Round groups to book places in the Final Round this year in Latvia.
The news was also very good for Romania and Finland, who avoided dropping into Division B but the same could not be said for Great Britain and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Brits, after winning just once in their Division A campaign last summer, suffered a 71-66 defeat at Romania on Monday to fall to 3-3 in the Relegation Round and drop into Division B.
Finland prevailed in their game over winless Bosnia and Herzegovina 95-57 to improve to 4-2.
Romania (5-1) and Finland (4-2) stayed in the top flight.
Relegation is a bitter pill to swallow for the British women.
British Basketball was restructured after London was awarded the 2012 Olympics and the men’s team responded by not only winning promotion to Division A but also finishing first last summer in their EuroBasket 2009 qualifying group to earn a trip to Poland for the Final Round.
The women’s team has been able to compete with some very good teams in Europe.
“We’ve beaten established teams in the A Division, like Germany, as well as in preparation games, like Croatia,” Britain coach Mark Clark said.
“I would argue that if we were a country that had a basketball program like this for more than the last three years alone, then there would be no doubt we would be at the level we need to be to play at the 2012 Olympics.”
Both Italy and Ukraine finished 3-1 in the Additional Qualifying Round, with each team’s loss coming after each had sealed a spot in the Final Round.
Giampiero Ticchi, the Italy coach, said after his team had won Group B with a home victory over Belgium on January 16: "I am really very happy, we worked hard in the last few months and I believe we deserve this qualification to EuroBasket.
“I'd like to congratulate all my players because they played three good games but it is important to remember how the Italian Federation worked to help us achieve this qualification.”
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS