The draw for EuroBasket and EuroBasket Women 2009 as well as for all 2008 youth championships took place this afternoon in Venice, Italy in front of a packed house at the Venice Casino.
Representatives from 50 FIBA Europe member countries were on hand to see who their national teams would face.
A total of nearly 300 teams will be participating in the EuroBasket 2009 and EuroBasket Women 2009 Qualifying Round and the three age categories (U20, U18 and U16) of the 2008 Youth European
|New French coach Michel Gomez will lead France in Group C.|
There are 221 teams participating in the FIBA Europe youth competitions: Division A and B U16 Men and Women, Division A and B U18 Men and Women, and Division A and B U16 Men and Women.
The number of teams that have entered the FIBA Europe youth competitions is an all-time record. 215 teams participated in the 2007 editions and 191 in 2006.
The highlight of the afternoon was the draw for the EuroBasket and EuroBasket Women 2009, Division A.
Seven teams will qualify for EuroBasket, which will take place in Poland from 7th-20th September 2009, via the Qualifying Round. The 17 teams were drawn into three groups of four and one group of five. The top team in each group and the three best placed runners-up will advance directly to the finals while one more team will earn a spot via the Additional Qualifying Round.
Latvia and Portugal, the team that knocked them out of last year's EuroBasket, will meet each other again in an intriguing clash. The two teams were drawn into Group B along with Estonia and FYR Macedonia.
Latvia, who had Golden State's sensational young center Andris Biedrins in their team, had split their first two games against Croatia and world champions Spain last year in Seville and seemed likely to advance to the quarter-final round but the Baltic side were upset by Portugal in its third game and exited the event.
Portugal then surprised Israel in the next round but failed to reach the quarter-finals. National team coach Victor Melnychuk recently left Portugal to coach his native Ukraine.
Melnychuk and Ukraine will come up against very stiff opposition after being drawn in Group C with France, who this week appointed Michel Gomez as national team boss.
France finished eighth at the EuroBasket.
Turkey and Belgium round out a group that looks to be the class of the Qualifying Round along with Group A, which will pit Italy and Serbia against Bulgaria, Hungary and Finland in a bid to reach Poland.
The Italians won the silver medal at the Athens Olympics, while Serbia, who appointed Dusan Ivkovic as
their coach at the beginning of the year, have yet to win a medal since the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.
|Kathrin Ress was an emerging star for Italy at EuroBasket Women 2007.|
Bulgaria, who played at EuroBasket 2005 in Serbia & Montenegro, will be led by former Maccabi Tel Aviv and Olympiacos coach Pini Gershon.
Great Britain, who like Finland won promotion from Division B, probably caught a break as they try to advance to Poland because in Group D they are alongside Israel, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Czech Republic.
19 teams will compete for nine spots at EuroBasket Women 2009, which will take place in Latvia from 7th-20th June.
Group A features three teams which competed in EuroBasket Women 2007 as Germany, Lithuania and Israel will compete in a group with Ukraine and Great Britain.
Draw hosts Italy will play in Group B alongside Turkey, Finland, Poland and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Italians performed well in front of the home crowd last September and will look to build on those good feelings two years later.
Group C will pit powerhouse France, who finished a disappointing eighth in Italy, against Romania, the Slovak Republic, Croatia and Hungary.
Group D may be the hardest with superstar Ann Wauters and Belgium facing fellow EuroBasket Women 2007 participants Serbia and Greece with Bulgaria rounding out the field.
Please visit www.fibaeurope.com to see the draw results in all categories and to replay the draw.