|19 August 2011|
|Petteri Koponen is only 23 years old, but he has already seen Finland come a long way in European basketball since he played his first game with the senior national team|
If Portugal were thrilled after their 66-57 victory in the EuroBasket Additional Qualifying Round over Hungary on Thursday night, Finland were as well.
The result clinched a spot in the EuroBasket, which tips off on August 31, for both the Portuguese and Finns and eliminated Hungary from contention for a place in the 24-team tournament.
Finland had won their first two AQR games against Hungary and Portugal.
The result on Thursday meant that Hungary (0-3) had no chance of catching either the Portuguese (2-1) or Finns .
"This is a wonderful thing, and, above all, a historic day for the whole of Finnish sports," Finland coach Henrik Dettmann said.
"It is the grand prize for the national team, a kind of crown.
"In recent years, we have played good games and now the general public and the media are interested."
One of the Finnish players, Petteri Koponen, was excited.
"I have personally been involved only five years," he said, "but we have already gone a long way together.
"Five years ago, we played in Division B against the small countries and now we are on the way to the EuroBasket."