|01 February 2014|
|Greece, Turkey and Finland - Europe's Wild Card entries to the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain|
FIBA Europe was proud to learn on Saturday, that three of the four wildcards given out to the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup presented by BEKO have been given to European teams.
Finland, Turkey and Greece are the fortunate European recipients, with FIBA Americas member Brazil claiming the fourth, taking the total number of European teams who will play in Spain in August and September to 10.
"I am extremely proud that three of the wild cards have been given to European countries," said FIBA Europe Secretary General Kamil Novak speaking from Barcelona, Spain on Saturday where the decision was made, continuing, "for our continent to have the biggest representation at the world's largest international basketball competition is a reflection of the depth of European basketball and reward for the hard work being put in at grassroots level.
"It gives me particular joy to see the inclusion of Finland. As recently as 2009, the Finnish senior men's team was playing in EuroBasket Division A. However, since then their rapid development has been remarkable, with top 10 finishes at the previous two EuroBaskets.
"In Lithuania in 2011 and Slovenia in 2013, what was even more heartening to see, was the large number of Finnish fans who travelled to both locations to support their team.
"I have no doubt that all three teams will do Europe proud come August."
Henrik Dettmann, who as the head coach of the national team at the previous two EuroBaskets can take a large part of the credit for the rapid rise of Finnish basketball was ecstatic soon after the draw before making it clear of his teams intentions in Spain.
"This is very gratifying for all of us after decades of hard work with Finnish basketball. Recent years have proved that we have all the ingredients to challenge bigger countries even in the World Cup. We are not going to Spain just to participate in the first world championships in the history of Finnish basketball."
He was also quick to heap praise on his team's fans.
"[The] fans were a big part of our bid. They were truly amazing at EuroBasket and the atmosphere we had for our games in Koper was something we will all remember forever. Much like in Koper we believe that we will have the "home court" advantage in the World Cup too."
The reactions out of Greece shared a similar line of thought to those of Dettman.
"This is a success of Greek basketball. We have been a steady presence in all tournaments before this, we have been honouring all our commitments towards the sport and I think we deserved this [wild card]," said George Vassilakopoulos, the FIBA Europe Honorary President and Greek Federation President.
Turkey, are glad to have a continuation of their involvement in the event.
"This is the fourth consecutive World Cup that Turkey will be present, after those of 2002, 2006 and 2010 which we also organised. Since Turkey are the hosts of the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women, that means we will be present in both of this year's big basketball events. We are of course grateful for this and extremely pleased," said Turgay Demirel, President of the Turkish Basketball Federation.
The other seven European nations who will be represented at the World Cup are Spain, Ukraine, Croatia, Serbia, France, Lithuania and Slovenia, who all earned qualification after finishing in the top seven at EuroBasket 2013.
Of course, the joy of some came at the expense of others with fellow European nations Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland and Israel unsuccessful in their bids to also gain wildcards.
Instead, they will now play the EuroBasket 2015 2nd Qualification Round, and will learn their opponents following the draw on Monday, with the qualification games taking place in August.