2014 FIBA WORLDS WOMEN
The six European nations competing at the FIBA World Championship for Women now know who they will be facing when they step out on Turkish soil later this year.
|2013 EuroBasket Women champions Spain|
The official draw for the event was concluded on Saturday evening at Ciragan Palace in Istanbul, with reigning EuroBasket Women champions Spain being pitched into Group A along with Czech Republic who hosted the last World Championship four years ago and finished with silver hanging around their necks in Karlovy Vary.
The duo will fight it out with Brazil and Japan in Ankara, with the four teams making up one of a quartet of groups.
After collecting gold in France last year at his first major tournament in the Spanish hot-seat, Lucas Mondelo was quick to underline how he felt the draw had thrown up a stiff challenge.
"There is not a single team against which you can relax," warned the coach.
"Globally I think it is the toughest of the four. It forces you to be very active and also in preparation.
"Brazil are a world power that has some of the best centers in the world, Japan is the champion of Asia and a team of talent that has taken a huge step forward physically, while the Czech Republic created problems for us at EuroBasket Women."
Meanwhile also based in the capital will be France and the host nation Turkey, who were drawn alongside Canada and underdogs Mozambique in Group B.
Having taken over the reins from Pierre Vincent, it looks like it could be a baptism of fire for new Les Bleues head-coach Valerie Garnier.
Reacting to a tricky looking schedule, the Tango Bourges play-caller said, ""This is not a simple draw, but there is never a simple draw.
"It is a World Championship, so there are only the best teams on the planet.
"Turkey will play at home so it will be very complicated. Canada are a team that are not easy to play with and having fighting qualities and Mozambique are unknown to us."
Belarus reached the semi-finals of the tournament during 2010 and they are the sole European representative in Group C, where they may feel they can make an impact.
Whilst they will step out in Istanbul against one of the medal front-runners in Australia, they will also face surprise FIBA Americas champions Cuba who are unpredictable and also Korea, who might choose to bring a young team because they are hosting the Asian Games at the same time and want to collect gold in Incheon.
Finally, Group D will see history made when Serbia take their first footsteps on the global stage and they will have the toughest game of anyone when they try to match-up with the runaway favourites and defending champions USA.
They will also tread the boards in Istanbul against Angola and China, with Vice-President of the Serbian Basketball Federation, Ana Jokovic having stated, "I am generally very satisfied and it should be noted that after twelve years, we will now appear at the World Championship for the first time under the name of Serbia.
"We will have the honour to play against the United States, the official World and Olympic champions.
"Angola are the champions of Africa and China are a strong opponent and a typical representative of the Asian style."
She added, "Our team has potential and quality, which is why I believe that we will be placed in the top 12 and can then try to qualify for the quarter-finals.
"It is more important that all the girls are healthy and have a good preparation."
The group phase of the competition will take place from 27 to 30 September and the final stage from 1 to 5 October.