Great Britain coach Chris Finch wants FIBA to send its strongest signal yet that the hosts will get a place in the 2012 Olympic Games by handing his team a wild-card berth in next summer’s world championships.
With a vote on the four available spots for Turkey set to be taken on Sunday, British Basketball officials have been lobbying to earn an invite in the face of competition from established powers including Lithuania, Israel and Russia.
Basketball is the only Olympic sport that does not provide an automatic spot for the home teams with the governing body demanding that GB’s men’s and women’s sides demonstrate their competitiveness before any decision is taken.
And despite finishing bottom of their first-round group at this year’s European Championships, Finch is hoping for a positive sign on the road to London.
"With regard to the wildcard, as we were in Poland, we are competing against some top nations for those finals few places in Turkey next year and it will be no mean feat in achieving one,” the American said. "If you look at our performances alone then we have demonstrated to FIBA exactly what they have asked of us since we began this journey in 2006. We gained promotion at the first attempt, then qualified for the European Championships at the first time of asking, and finally competed well in Poland against three group opponents, two of whom went on to contest the overall final.
"We are still striving for that Olympic place in 2012 but to warrant that we have to play against the best teams in the world and the only way of doing this is to compete at the World Championships.
"With a fully fit roster available to us we would not just be making up numbers in Turkey next year, we would be there to compete. The long-term goal for the team is to medal at 2012, but the long term goal for the sport is to establish itself in Britain for years to come and I believe the efforts of our two GB teams will be integral in providing a platform for this."
UK Sport have announced that British Basketball's funding through to 2012 has sustained a small cut, reduced from a planned £8,751,800 to £8,575,000.
"UK Sport have so far showed tremendous support and belief in what British Basketball is trying to achieve and in turn I believe we have demonstrated that we deserve this through our rapid rise within the European rankings; both our men and women,” Finch added. “And if we are to be successful in three years time, then we undoubtedly need that continued support from them."