Tough Groups For EuroBasket Women Qualifying

16 February 2008

Turkey, Poland and Italy were drawn alongside Finland and Bosnia-Herzegovina in a competitive qualifying Group B for EuroBasket Women 2009 in Latvia.

The Division A (qualifying round) games will be staged later this year with the top two sides in the four groups, and the best third-place team advancing to Riga.

Russia, Spain, Belarus, hosts Latvia and the Czech Republic are already assured of spots in the tournament.

The Italians hosted the EuroBasket Women 2007 and advanced from the group stage, as did Turkey, but each failed to reach the quarter-finals.

Poland, who have UMMC Ekaterinburg star Agnieszka Bibrzycka as their main player, narrowly missed out on the EuroBasket after finishing second to Israel in the additional qualifying tournament.

Group D will be a battle of strong teams as well with Serbia, Belgium and Greece having all taken part in last year's EuroBasket.

Serbia will have Sonja Petrovic for the second year running. She was voted in 2007 as the FIBA Europe Young Women's Player of the Year, while the Belgians will be tough opponents with CSKA Moscow superstar Ann Wauters and ESB Lille Metropole guard Kathy Wambe in their talented roster.

Greece played at the 2004 Olympics and EuroBasket 2005 in Turkey but failed to win a game last year in Italy. Bulgaria are also in Group D.

Germany, who boast Levoni Taranto's outstanding forward Linda Frohlich, are in Group A with Ukraine, Lithuania, Israel and Great Britain.

The Germans, Israel and Lithuania, who recently appointed Rutenis Paulauskas as coach, played at the EuroBasket Women in Italy.

France, the 2001 champions, will have some hard games as they attempt to become one of the elite teams in Europe again.

After finishing eighth last year at the EuroBasket, Les Bleues will have to take on Romania and Croatia - two other sides at last year's EuroBasket - in Group C along with Slovakia and Hungary.

France this week named Pierre Vincent, and assistant with last year's squad, as national team coach.

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