|FIBA Europe President Olafur Rafnsson during the EuroBasket Draw ceremony|
The EuroBasket 2011 Draw took place on Sunday night at the National Drama Theatre of Vilnius, in the most spectacular ceremony with a European basketball theme ever.
Reigning EuroBasket champions Spain and hosts Lithuania were drawn together in what promises to be the most hotly contested group, along with World Championship silver medallists Turkey, Great Britain, Poland and the second team to qualify from the Additional Qualifying Round which features Finland, Hungary and Portugal.
|FIBA Europe Secretary General Nar Zanolin declared: "There’s a new standard being set, our goal is to bring European basketball to the top of the world"|
The elaborate production glued to their seats the approximately 800 spectators and the 150 media representatives inside the theatre, and the millions of television viewers who watched the show in Lithuania and across Europe.
As many as 200 artists and performers collaborated for the show producion.
The Prime Minister of Lithuania, Andrius Kubilius, set the tone for the emotional night in his welcoming speech: "We love basketball and we love to win. We promise you that in the summer three million of basketball experts, three million hospitable people will wish well to all the teams, even if they dream of the success of Lithuania."
FIBA Europe President Olafur Rafnsson thanked the hosts for the wonderful ceremony: "We all know that basketball is the most popular sport in Lithuania and it is highly symbolic that a new era of EuroBasket, with more participating teams, starts exactly here, today.
|EuroBasket 2011 ambassador Arvydas Sabonis is nothing short of a national hero in Lithuania|
"When the new Board of FIBA Europe was elected last May we made a promise to look into the future and raise the image of European basketball to the highest possible level.
"We knew that to raise the image of European basketball it means to elevate the standard of EuroBasket, which is Europe's flagship event," Mr Rafnsson added.
The official mascot of EuroBasket 2011, Amberis, made it's first international appearance during the perfomance.
Amberis was warmly received by the audience, which learned that the choice of mascot was unusually simple in this case, as most Lithuanians believe amber is what better represents their country.
The warmest applause was reserved though for Lithuanian basketball legend Arvydas Sabonis, who fronted the long list of stars in attendance and assisted with the draw.
The EuroBasket 2011 First Round Draw Results:
|GROUP A||GROUP B||GROUP C||GROUP D|
|Great Britain||Israel||F.Y.R. of Macedonia||Georgia|
|Poland||Italy||Bosnia And Herzegovina||Bulgaria|
|Qualifier 2||Latvia||Qualifier 1||Ukraine|
The Group A games will be played in the city of Panevezys. Siauliai will host Group B, Alytus will host Group C and Klaipeda will be the scene of the Group D games.