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SWE - Johansson bullish after EuroBasket Women 2015 qualifying draw
FREISING (EuroBasket Women 2015) - EuroBasket Women 2013 surprise package Sweden will renew their rivalry with deposed champions Russia after being pitched into the same group for the EuroBasket Women 2015 Second Qualification Round.
Both nations wrote plenty of headlines in France earlier this year, with the Swedes causing a sensation by beating Russia in Vannes and contributing to the defending champions' eyebrow-raising first phase exit.
The pair have been drawn in a three team group with the Netherlands next summer, with only the group winners guaranteed to punch their ticket for the tournament which will take place in Hungary and Romania in 2015.
"It's a tough draw, but I know that they weren't happy in Russia being in the same group as us either," said Sweden head coach Lars Johansson.
"If you take the 12 best teams in Europe, we can beat them all, but we can also lose to them.
"I feel that all the teams in the third seeding group are pretty equal, so which team we got from there doesn't matter much.
"We have to respect the Netherlands, they are a good team too.
"We met the Netherlands in 2009 and lost in the qualifications for going up in the A division then, but both teams are different now - we had something close to a U20 team then.
"At Eurobasket 2013, we came in seventh and have several players establishing themselves at a high European level," continued the play-caller.
"The Netherlands are a good team, but I feel that they haven't quite had the same success and experience as us."
Russia, meanwhile, are preparing to announce who will take over the reins from Alfredas Vainauskas who presided over their disastrous campaign in France.
The Second Qualification Round will see a total of 22 teams compete for the 11 remaining spots, with the teams divided into four groups of four and two groups of three teams.
Group A will see Poland go up against Slovenia, Luxembourg and the Slovak Republic. Great Britain and Lithuania - who both competed at EuroBasket Women 2013 - will face Belgium and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (MKD) were drawn in Group B.
Italy reached the Quarter-Finals in France last June and will take on Latvia, Estonia and Portugal in Group C. Montenegro will bid to make their third EuroBasket Women appearance in a row when they do battle with Ukraine, Germany and Finland in Group D.
Croatia, Bulgaria and Israel will play in Group F, the second group of three teams along with Group E containing Sweden, Russia and Netherlands.
Each team will play their group rivals on a home and away basis, with the six group winners and five second-best placed teams advancing. The game dates for the Second Qualification Round are 8, 11, 15, 18, 22 and 25 June 2014.
Those teams that have already qualified are joint-hosts Hungary and Romania, EuroBasket 2015 Women First Qualification Round winners Greece and 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women competitors Spain, France, Turkey, Serbia, Belarus, and the Czech Republic.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS