The draw for EuroBasket and EuroBasket Women 2009 as well as for all 2008 youth championships took place this afternoon in Venice, Italy in front of a packed house at the Venice Casino.

Representatives from 50 FIBA Europe member countries were on hand to see who their national teams would face.

A total of nearly 300 teams will be participating in the EuroBasket 2009 and EuroBasket Women 2009 Qualifying Round and the three age categories (U20, U18 and U16) of the 2008 Youth European Championships.

There are 221 teams participating in the FIBA Europe youth competitions: Division A and B U16 Men and Women, Division A and B U18 Men and Women, and Division A and B U16 Men and Women.

The number of teams that have entered the FIBA Europe youth competitions is an all-time record. 215 teams participated in the 2007 editions and 191 in 2006.

The highlight of the afternoon was the draw for the EuroBasket and EuroBasket Women 2009, Division A.

Seven teams will qualify for EuroBasket, which will take place in Poland from September 7-20, 2009, via the Qualifying Round. The 17 teams were drawn into three groups of four and one group of five. The top team in each group and the three best placed runners-up will advance directly to the finals while one more team will earn a spot via the Additional Qualifying Round.

Latvia and Portugal, the team that knocked them out of last year’s EuroBasket, will meet each other again in an intriguing clash. The two teams were drawn into Group B along with Estonia and FYR Macedonia.

Latvia, who had Golden State’s sensational young center Andris Biedrins in their team, had split their first two games against Croatia and world champions Spain last year in Seville and seemed likely to advance to the quarter-final round but the Baltic side were upset by Portugal in its third game and exited the event.