“I’d like to calm the basketball society a bit – no one has excluded Lithuanian team from the 2017 European basketball championship,” Lithuanian Basketball Federation secretary general Mindaugas Špokas said in a statement on Saturday.
The federation responded to media reports that 14 national basketball federations have received letters from FIBA, warning that they may be excluded from the FIBA’s European basketball championship 2017 because their clubs have opted to compete in the Euroleague and Eurocup.
Basketball news website eurohoops.net reports that Spain, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Russia have been banned from Eurobasket, while Lithuania, Poland, Italy, Greece, Israel and Turkey are warned and called to act by 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 Žalgiris Kaunas and Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius have decided to attend the Euroleague and Eurocup tournaments instead of FIBA’s proposed Basketball Champions league competition which was officially launched last month.
Linas Kunigėlis, spokesman for the Lithuanian Basketball Federation, has played down the talks that Lithuania may be excluded from the Eurobasket 2017.
“The talks that someone can be disqualified automatically are more of the theoretical level so far,” Kunigėlis told LRT.
“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, but as clubs are private entities they cannot be forced to choose some tournaments over others.
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. Lithuania hosted Eurobasket 2011.