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Finland likely to bring much of historic team to U17 Worlds
And head coach Antti Koskelainen has kept intact most of that team in the naming of a 16-player preliminary squad for the 2016 spectacle in Zaragoza.
|Finland 16-player preliminary roster for 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship|
|Tuomo Antikainen||Thomas Exaucia||Andre Gustavson||Miika Heinonen|
|Tuukka Jaakkola||Mikael Jantunen||Jaakko Lammi||Tomas Pihlajamaki|
|Mathias Rosqvist||Karri Sallyla||Olli Savolainen||Aapeli Syrjamaki|
|Elias Valtonen||Erik Waxlax||Ricky Waxlax||Eetu Villa|
"The team is full of familiar players from along the way. In our first camp together, it was delightful to see younger players (born in 2000 and 2001) rise to the challenge and perform extraordinarily well against older guys," said Koskelainen, whose player list featured Finland’s top 10 scorers from last summer’s continental tournament.
Koskelainen included 10 of the 12 players who finished sixth at the 2015 FIBA U16 European Championship for this summer's global event.
In addition to the 10 players from last summer’s historic U16 team, Koskelainen invited six more players including three born in 2000 or 2001. All told, there are four younger players in Koskelainen's 16-man squad: Mikael Jantunen, Pihlajamaki, Olli Savolainen (all 2000-born) and Thomas Exaucia (2001-born).
"The 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship games will be an extraordinary experience for all of our players and a possibility to reach new boundaries. But the main thing is to focus on the current day and practice," said Koskelainen.
The play caller will have three preparation games to get his team ready for their U17 Worlds debut: a double-header against Lithuania on 4 and 5 June and against Czech Republic on 9 June.
Finland have been drawn into Group C of the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship with Australia, Canada and China.