Rivals Content With Accessible Group F

05.02.2014

EUROBASKET 2015

FIBA Europe Secretary General Kamil Novak with FIBA Europe Board Member Lena Wallin-Kantzy and Swedish international Ludvig Hakanson
Swedish international Ludvig Hakanson was satisfied with the draw on Monday: "Spontaneously it feels like a pretty good draw"

No champagnes were uncorked, but representatives of the nations that will face off in Group F of the EuroBasket 2015 2nd Qualification Round did not hide their satisfaction with the outcome of the draw.

Latvia, one of the seven top seeds in Monday's draw, will take on Sweden, Romania and Slovakia in Group F.

Ludvig Hakanson, Sweden's youngest senior national team player, plies his trade at FC Barcelona's youth team and was obviously present at the draw in the capital of the Catalonia region on Monday.

"I think that on paper it's an okay draw, when we were drawn in there and there were only Latvia and Italy left [from the top seeds], somehow it felt better to get Latvia," the 18-year-old point guard said.

"I have no in-depth knowledge of the other teams in our group, but spontaneously it feels like a pretty good draw.

"I do not know if it's an advantage or disadvantage to end up in a four-team group but this way we will get to play more games at home, which is really fun.

"It will be a tough but fun Qualification Round," the young Swede concluded.

Latvia are the only team in this company to have reached the last 12 of EuroBasket 2013 and also felt comfortable with the results of the draw in Barcelona.

"There is no reason to be dissatisfied with this draw, either from a sporting or economic point of view," Latvian National Teams director Maris Jucmanis commented.

"The second-seed that fell in group F, Sweden, is a respectable opponent but there were also more complicated potential rivals like Russia, Israel, Georgia or F.Y.R. of Macedonia.

"Last September, at the EuroBasket in Slovenia, the Swedes defeated Russia but lost their other four games.

"NBA player Jeffery Taylor leads Sweden in offence and sets the tone for them.

"From the third seeds, we got Slovakia rather than a quite strong Bulgaria and costly trips to Iceland or Portugal," Jucmanis continued.

"The Slovaks have a very good guard, Anton Gavel of Bamberg, and an excellent forward in Radoslav Rancik who plays at Nymburk, but the rest of the players are not well known to us."

"We had a little bit of bad luck only at the last moment, when the draw produced Romania as a fourth team in the group and we will have to undergo the fatigue of playing six games rather than just four.

"We remember the Romanians very well from the qualifying campaign in 2012 [for EuroBasket 2013] where we won both games, home and away."

9. Dairis Bertans (Latvia)
Dairis Bertans and Latvia already faced Romania in their qualification campaign for EuroBasket 2013 

Virgil Carutasu, who is the national teams' manager of the Romanian Basketball Federation, echoed the general view on the group of his opposite number in Latvia.

"It is an accessible group, in which we can do something good if we are at full strength," Carutasu said.

"We will try to bring our best basketball and hopefully put the modest results of recent years behind us.

"Why not be optimistic about it?" the Romanian official offered.

"We will try to have all players available at the start of training camp.

"We will then make trial-outs and we'll endeavour to form a competitive group of players for this qualification."

Summer preparations were also on the mind of Jucmanis following the draw, as Latvia seem to have already a preliminary schedule in place.

"We expect to open the training camp at the end of June, six weeks before the first official game," Jucmanis said.

"In recent years, we have found out that this is the optimal time in order to achieve a good condition.

"We will have negotiations for warm-up games with Lithuania, Georgia and Great Britain.

"We aim to preserve the core of the team from the past few years but it's yet too early to talk about a specific list of candidates.

"Let us keep our fingers crossed that the players will complete the club season healthy and avoid injuries, which unfortunately has already struck Janis Berzins and Kaspars Vecvagars."

Both highly talented youngsters were on the Latvia team that conquered silver in last summer's Sportland U20 European Championship and suited up for the senior national team shortly after in preparation for EuroBasket 2013, but are expected to be sidelined for several months due to injury.


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