|24 July 2014|
EUROBASKET 2015 QR
|Kristaps Janicenoks made it onto Latvia's roster for the summer|
Three of the four teams that will cross swords in Group F of the EuroBasket 2015 2nd Qualifying Round have trimmed their squad to 14 players and, barring unforeseen circumstances, are not expected to modify their rosters further.
The latest to take some tough decisions, on Wednesday evening was Latvia head coach Ainars Bagatskis.
Following his team's late practice Bagatskis informed winger Haralds Karlis and Andrejs Selakovs that they were released from the national team's training camp as they will not take part in August's qualifying campaign.
"The decision was influenced by the situation in these players' specific positions," Bagatskis explained.
"At the '3' spot, Karlis has competition from Kristaps Janicenoks and Janis Timma, who are right now superior players.
"At the center spot, we have preferred more versatile players and Andrejs [Selakovs] is not as versatile as Ronalds Zakis and Andrejs Grazulis.
"Thank you both for taking part in training camp and helping to motivate your team-mates, I hope I'll see you again in a year," Bagatskis conluded in a direct message to the two players.
Following the two latest cuts and the incorporation of Rolands Smits who shined with the U20 Latvian team at the recent European Championship in Greece, Latvia's squad is down to 14 players: Janis Strelnieks, Janis Blums, Dairis Bertans, Aigars Skele, Ingus Jakovics, Kristaps Janicenoks, Janis Timma, Mareks Mejeris, Rolands Smits, Rolands Freimanis, Kaspars Berzins, Andrejs Grazulis, Martiņs Meiers and Ronalds Zakis.
Most teams that will participate in the EuroBasket 2015 2nd Qualifying Round appear to be settling for a 14-strong pool of players, out of which they will pick their 12-man squad for each contest, either according to their needs against the opposition they face in a specific game or to make up for potential injuries during the 17-day-long competition.
Probably the first team in Group F to settle for their 14-strong squad were Sweden.
Swedish head coach Vendran Bosnic saw Christian Maraker pick up an injury over the weekend, when the Nordic team faced Belgium in back-to-back warm-up games, but the big man's condition is not jeopardising his participation in the 2nd Qualifying Round.
Sweden lost both games against Belgium but Bosnic identified some positive aspects.
"Belgium is a good team, we worked well and I liked how we come back in the third period of the first game.
"However, we did not have the energy to maintain focus and continue in the same path.
"We have a tough period ahead of us now with hard work in order to develop our game and to arrive in top form in the qualifiers in August."
Sweden's 14-strong roster consists of Tobias Borg, Ludvig Hakanson, Joakim Kjellbom, Carl Engström, Anton Gaddefors, Pierre Hampton, Martin Pahlmblad, Jonathan Person, Thomas Massamba, Brice Massamba, Christian Maraker, Tom Lidén, Alexander Lindqvist and Dino Pita.
The Slovak Republic are also working with a 14-strong pool of players in their preparations and in their latest string of friendlies they won one and lost one against Hungary.
Slovak head coach Milan Černický even had the chance to rest on the bench the team's big star, sharp-shooter Anton Gavel, during long stretches, to test the response of the rest of his players.
Gavel headlines a 14-strong Slovak roster which also includes Milan Žiak, Oliver Tot, Nenad Miloševič, Marek Jašš, Marek Kozlík, Tomáš Mrviš, Martin Bílik, Richard Körner, Michal Baťka, Andrej Kuffa, Jakub Petráš, Peter Dorazil, Peter Šimek.
Romania meanwhile are the only team in this group to still maintain 16 players in training camp, at least until the international friendly tournament they will host in Sibiu over the weekend and will see them take on Tunisia, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
"After a very difficult period in terms of physical preparation, we now expect these games to be very important for us," commented Romania head coach Marcel Tenter.
"We want to see what works and what does not and to understand who are the players who will form the main core of this campaign.
"Vlad Moldoveanu will join us ahead of the tournament in Sibiu so we will be able to test the full squad in these games."
Romania's roster at the moment consists of Rolland Torok, Andrei Mandache, Mihai Silvasan, Catalin Baciu, Bogdan Tibirna, Levente Szijarto, Andrei Capusan, Titus Nicoara, Adrian Gutoaia, Teodor Jucan, Adrian Tudor, Andrei Dragos, Popa Calota Octavian, Mihai Paul, Vlad Corpodean and Vlad Moldoveanu.
On the opening day of action in Group F on 10 August, the Slovak Republic play host to Romania while Sweden receive the visit of Latvia.