Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Possible Commonwealth tournament in India involving Canada

Basketball may capitalise on Delhi 2010's Commonwealth bounce

Basketball's world governing body, FIBA, is exploring the possibility of staging a 'Commonwealth' tournament in India in October next year to coincide with the Commonwealth Games proper in Delhi.

The tournament, probably consisting of eight countries, would have no connection with the official Games but FIBA would hope to capitalise on the large media presence in Delhi to promote the sport.

Such a tournament could feature the emerging Great Britain squad against Australia – the Commonwealth champions and a potential powerhouse nation if they could call on their overseas professionals – a rejuvenated Canada, New Zealand and Nigeria. India would field a side and two guest teams would be approached – perhaps Angola and China – who both participated in the 2008 Olympics.

An additional international competition is likely to appeal to Great Britain, who are currently playing in the European Championship here, as they try to pack in as much international basketball as possible before London 2012, but the likelihood is that they would have to field a development squad.

Next summer they are hoping either to receive a wild-card invite to the World Championships in Turkey or to be required to qualify for the 2011 Eurobasket tournament in Lithuania. In either case their professionals based overseas would struggle to secure their release again in the autumn.

Meanwhile, if Great Britain had any doubts about the challenge ahead in becoming competitive for the 2012 they were quickly dispelled during the opening games of Eurobasket 09 in Warsaw.

There was no disgrace in their 72-59 defeat against the slick moving, fast shooting, maverick Slovenians who can beat anybody when they are hot, but it was a major shock to the system watching their next opponents – world champions Spain, with all their NBA stars minus Rudy Fernandez playing – being outplayed and outmuscled by Serbia as they went down 66-57.

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