Latvia to host men’s basketball championship finals next year

The International Basketball Federation FIBA has selected Latvia among four host countries to stage the European men’s championship finals EuroBasket 2015, the sports media reported Monday.

Lille, France will host the final medal games while the qualifying rounds will be played in Montpelier, France; Zagreb, Croatia; and Berlin, Germany and Riga. Latvia’s national team is now likely to play its game at home at the Arena Riga, having earned its qualification to the finals next year by winning all six of their games in 2014.

The Latvian Basketball Federation (LBS) had prepared a brochure to pitch the nation’s sports traditions and the country’s experience in organizing high-level athletic events, also touting Riga’s well-developed infrastructure to persuade FIBA’s European officials to grant them the contract. But it’s also possible that the VIP presence of Saeima Speaker Solvita Āboltiņa, who accompanied the delegation at the special request of the LBS, impressed the FIBA decision-makers most of all.

Latvia’s bid to host part of the FIBA championship games was considered to be a long-shot after plans to hold them in Ukraine since 2011 were scrapped due to the deteriorating security situation there as a result of the invasion by Russian forces. Instead it was decided to spread the finals out over four countries, with France, Croatia and Germany being the clear favorites with FIBA.

LBS president Valdis Voins said he was convinced that hosting the qualifying finals would not be a net loss for Latvia, despite some sticker-shock from the €1.2m license fee to be covered by the state budget. The basketball championship qualifying games will promote economic activity and earnings that will far outweigh the costs of the license, he said.

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