|11 July 2011|
Finland are within touching distance of a place in the EuroBasket.
It's been a very long time since anyone has been able to say that.
If they claim one of the two spots on offer in the Additional Qualifying Round that also includes Hungary and Portugal, the Finns will compete at a EuroBasket for the first time since 1995 when they finished 14th.
|Gerald Lee and Finland are raring to go|
National team coach Henrik Dettmann and his players feel a sense of urgency.
Dettmann's players are so hungry that many have have taken it upon themselves to start training before the official start of the preparations.
"Most of the players have already been practicing voluntarily as a team this past week," Dettmann revealed.
"All the guys are in great shape after the season and the motivation is high.
"Once the training camp begins, we want to prepare ourselves for the challenge of the high-tempo game of international competition."
Dettmann knows that to claim one of the two spots still available for the 24-team EuroBasket, his players need to be battle-tested.
"We have an intense preparation program, and our goal is to build on an old base," Dettmann said.
"Our core has been together for several years, which is a great advantage for us.
"Meeting Germany in Hagen is a terrific culmination point for our preparation."
The Finns will hold a training camp in Hagen, Germany, from August 3-6. They will take on the side coached by Dirk Bauermann on August 4, and August 5.
Dettmann is the former coach of Germany and led them into the FIBA World Championship Semi-Finals back in 2002.
There is a lot of optimism in Finland surrounding the national team.
"This is a natural result from the improvement of our national team and its players," Dettmann said.
"It's kind of a positive spiral: while more and more of our players become professionals, they are able to develop themselves in professional environment, and that provides even better future for Finland as a basketball country."
The Finland training camp that starts on Monday and runs until July 15 is in Tallinn, Estonia.
The Finns will then return home to Helsinki for July 19-21 to continue their workouts.
The Nordic Championship Games will be staged from July 23-26 in Sundsvall, Sweden, while from July 31 to - August 2, Finland will be in Helsinki again.
Finland's first game in the Additional Qualifying Round will be August 12 at Hungary.
Finland squad: Samuel Haanpää, Petri Heinonen, Shawn Huff, Tuomas Iisalo, Antti Kanervo, Kataja Joensuun, Mikko Koivisto, Petteri Koponen, Tuukka Kotti, Gerlad Lee, Kimmo Muurinen, Vesa Mäkäläinen, Hanno Möttölä, Antti Nikkilä, Teemu Rannikko, Sasu Salin, Petri Virtanen.