Lithuanian basketball body plays down fears of missing Euro 2017

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Vilnius, April 17 (IANS) The Lithuanian Basketball Federation has announced that the country hasn’t yet been excluded from the FIBA’s European basketball championship 2017.

“I’d like to calm the basketball society a bit — no one has excluded Lithuanian team from the 2017 European basketball championship,” Lithuanian national federation secretary general Mindaugas Spokas said in a release on Saturday.

The federation responded to worldwide media reports that 14 national basketball federations have received letters from FIBA that they may be excluded from the Eurobasket 2017, reports Xinhua.

According to various reports, eight countries have already been banned and six more are warned because their basketball clubs have chosen to compete in the Euroleague and Eurocup instead of FIBA’s proposed Basketball Champions league competition which was officially launched last month.

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Basketball news website reports that Spain, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Russia are banned, while Lithuania, Poland, Italy, Greece, Israel and Turkey are warned and called to act until April 20.

The Lithuanian Basketball Federation confirmed that it has received the letter from the FIBA that asks the federation to deliver its position considering the participation of the country’s basketball clubs by April 20.

Lithuania’s leading basketball clubs Zalgiris and Lietuvos rytas have decided to attend the Euroleague and Eurocup tournaments.

The head of the federation’s public relations, Linas Kunigelis played down the talks that silver medallists of the previous European basketball championship may be excluded from the Eurobasket 2017.

“The talks that someone can be disqualified automatically are more of the theoretical level so far,” Kunigelis told LRT.

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“Now, it’s only an attempt to sort out the final positions of some of those 14 countries’ federations,” he added.

He noted that the federation has always recommended the country’s basketball clubs to compete in tournaments organised by FIBA and that its position hasn’t changed.

According to Kunigelis, the federation cannot force the private basketball clubs to choose the basketball tournaments.

Last year, Lithuanian national basketball team headed by the head coach Jonas Kazlauskas won silver medal in the Eurobasket.

Lithuania has won European basketball championship gold medals in 1937, 1939 and 2003, and silver medals in Eurobasket 2013 and 2015.

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