Georgia qualifies for EuroBasket 2015

Georgian team gained first place in the qualifying group and will play on EuroBasket for the third time., 28 Aug 2014 - 12:34, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Georgian men’s national basketball team will compete in one of Europe’s top basketball competitions - EuroBasket 2015.

The Georgian side placed first in their group, which was made possible after Georgia defeated Portugal yesterday at a home game at Sport’s Palace of Tbilisi. Qualifying top of their group ensured the Georgian side automatic entry into next year’s prestigious tournament.

Getting to this stage was not easy for the Georgians – they played six qualification matches which resulted in four wins and two losses.

It will be the third consecutive time a Georgian basketball team has participated in the EuroBasket competition.

In yesterday’s game, Georgia celebrated a confident victory and won the game with a 12-point difference, with the final score being 79-59.

The team’s top scorer was Viktor Sanikidze with 20 points, followed by the team captain Zaza Pachulia with 15 points.

The 2015 European Championship was supposed to be held in Ukraine, however due to the tense situation, the country refused to host the tournament.

On June 13 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) officially announced the EuroBasket 2015 would not be held in Ukraine but not alternative was announced. At this stage several counties are contesting the right to host the tournament and an official decision will be made soon.

Meanwhile, the Georgian basketballers have spoken out about the poor conditions for playing basketball in the country. The athletes addressed Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and his Government to "look after” the sport.

At a press conference after the winning match, team captain Pachulia noted only two teams were registered in the national championship, which was "a very serious issue”.

"I am very proud of these guys. This is a very good day for us. We have done all that we could to play at the EuroBasket despite the difficulties and injuries that are present in the team,” he said.

"However, in spite of this joy, a big concern remains for us regarding the condition of Georgian basketball,” Pachulia said.

"We want to address the Georgian Prime Minister, Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs and the Georgian Government to look after basketball and pay attention to the development of this sport. Because today there are only two teams in the championship and Georgia does not deserve this,” he noted.

"We are doing our best for the country to show a good result and in the future it would be better for Georgia if it has a strong championship and if there are teams where professionals can be raised, the country will benefit and the national team will be stronger,” the team captain said.

PM Garibashvili responded to the athletes with a special statement, where he promised to improve their conditions and congratulated them on their success.

"Georgian basketballers have gained another victory. After a tense match our team has taken first place in the qualifying group of the European Championship and gained the right to compete at the EuroBasket for the third time in a row. I congratulate our athletes and all fans of the basketball with this great victory,” the statement read.

"Our team’s victory is especially valuable because I very well know how many difficulties and problems they have had to overcome in order to play and prepare, and this has been ongoing for many years. Our Government will do everything to ensure our players can play basketball in decent conditions,” Garibashvili said.

"Basketball is one of the most popular sports in Georgia and our fans have witnessed many great successes. Therefore it is our duty to contribute to the development of basketball in the country, its promotion and ensure the national championship is held at a higher level, which I am confident will be a prerequisite for many other victories,” read the statement.