Door Opens For Latvian Veteran Duo

16 March 2015
8. Gunta Basko (Latvia)
Gunta Basko-Melnbarde could well be making a return to the Latvian national team this summer 

Latvia have opened the door for veteran pair Anete Jekabsone and Gunta Basko-Melnbarde to make a return to national team duties for EuroBasket Women 2015.

The duo were the headline names on a 19-strong preliminary candidate list chosen by head coach Ainars Zvirgzdins.

Jekabsone is widely renowned as the greatest player in Latvian women's basketball history and remains one of the biggest stars in European basketball.

After reaching EuroLeague Women Final Four with Dynamo Kursk, the shooting guard looks like she may now have another major tournament to prepare for after a six-year absence from representing her country.

Having previously announced her international retirement, Jekabsone last played in 2009 when Latvia hosted Final Round and Zvirgzdins was in his first spell holding the reins.

Meanwhile Basko-Melnbarde also withdrew from national team duties and was formerly a cornerstone of the team. The swingman has been playing with Basket Landes in France of late and her veteran 'know how' will be welcomed as she bids to play at her fifth Final Round.

"I am glad that Anete and Gunta have expressed a desire to return to play for their country and have agreed to be included in the candidate list," said Zvirgzdins.

"It's pleasant at a time when many European teams are naturalising Americans, that we can use our 'hidden' reserves.

"Of course, for Anete and Gunta's involvement to become a reality, there needs to be luck and health with their clubs in the last two months of the season - this also applies to other candidates."

Five players who helped the team qualify for Hungary and Romania aren't on the list. They include Elina Babkina who has opted to focus only on trying to launch her WNBA career with Los Angeles Sparks, while another prominent figure in past years has been Zane Tamane, but she has not been playing at club level this season.

Latvia have been drawn in Group C and will play Croatia, Great Britain, Russia and Serbia in Szombathely.

The full preliminary roster is as follows:
Kate Aizsila, Zane Eglīte (RSU/Merks, Latvia); Zenta Melnika, Ieva Kulite, Ruta Veidere, Kitija Laksa, Kate Kreslina, Ieva Krastina, Anda Eibele (TTT Riga, Latvia); Anete Jekabsone-Zogota (Dynamo Kursk, Russia); Gunta Basko-Melnbarde (Basket Landes, France); Liene Priede (ChemCats Chemnitz, Germany); Dita Liepkalne (Bembibre, Latvia); Zane Jakobsone, Sabīne Niedola (SK Cesis, Latvia); Dita Rozenberga (San Salvatore, Italy); Anete Steinberga (Castors Braine, Belgium); Kristine Vitola (Mann-Filter, Spain); Aija Putnina (San Martino, Italy)

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