GENEVA (FIBA U17 World Championship for Men and Women) - The fields for the 2012 FIBA U17 Championships for Men and Women are set with the USA back in both competitions to defend their titles from the inaugural events in 2010.
The 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship for Men will take place in Kaunas, Lithuania, from June 29 to July 8.
Leading the 12-team field are the reigning champions USA, who won the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship. Also qualifying from the Americas for a second time are Argentina and Canada – the latter who took bronze at the first U17 Worlds in 2010 in Hamburg, Germany.
All told, nine teams are returning for the second staging of the tournament, including FIBA Africa U16 champions Egypt; FIBA Asia U16 champions China and runners-up Korea; and FIBA Oceania U16 winners Australia.
Also back for a second time are 2012 hosts Lithuania and Spain.
The European contingent has proven to be the most volatile group of teams as 2010 silver medalists Poland as well as hosts Germany and Serbia did not qualify.
Instead, ready to go for the hardware in Kaunas will be FIBA Europe U16 champions Croatia, runners-up Czech Republic and fourth-placed France.
The field for the FIBA U17 World Championship for Women was completed in mid-December as Japan and Korea reached the U16 FIBA Asia Final – which was won by the former – to secure the final two berths for the 2012 tournament which will take place in Rotterdam, Netherlands, from August 17-26.
Japan are one of eight teams from 2010 to return, while Korea will be making their debut after beating China, who had taken bronze in Toulouse and Rodez, France, two years ago. Also making a return appearance will be FIBA Africa U16 champions Mali and FIBA Oceania U16 winners Australia.
The FIBA U17 women's reigning champions USA hope to successfully defend their title after beating Brazil to gold in the U16 FIBA Americas. It wasn't all bad news for the Brazilians though as they qualified for the first time to the U17 world championship, while third-placed Canada are heading back to the biennial tournament.
Representing Europe will be FIBA Europe U16 champions Spain, runners-up Belgium, bronze winners Italy, as well as Turkey and U17 Worlds hosts Netherlands.
Spain, Belgium and Turkey are in the tournament for a second time while Italy and Netherlands are first-timers replacing Russia and France, the latter who won 2010 U17 women’s silver.
The draws for the FIBA U17 World Championships for Men and Women will take place in January and February 2012.