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Henrik Dettmann (FIN) - EuroBasket 2013
FIN - Basketball takes center stage

HELSINKI (EuroBasket) - There is a basketball euphoria in Finland like never before.

Just 10 days after EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia, where the Finns were among 24 teams taking part in the competition, the general public in the nordic country has had an awakening of sorts to the sport.

Finland coach Henrik Dettman hasn't stopped giving interviews on television, radio, in newspapers and magazines, since his return home.

People stop him in the street to comment on the success of the team, and the character of his players.

Finland beat Turkey, Russia and Greece - three sides in the top 10 of the FIBA Men Ranking.

They blew out tournament hosts Slovenia, 92-76, in their last game with a remarkable long-range shooting display (17 of 32, 53.1%) that people in Ljubljana will never forget.

The Finns didn't qualify for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, yet they have climbed nine places in the FIBA Ranking Men from 48th to 39th.

Judging from the explosion of interest in the sport in the country, Finland were a big winner at EuroBasket 2013.

Dettmann spoke about this in an interview with Talk about the warm reception from the Finnish you received after returning home.
Dettmann: We have gotten one, but in fact already did during the EuroBasket. The enthusiasm among other sports in Finland hasn't been that big since the 1995 and 2011 World Championship in ice hockey (Finland won the titles on both occasions). Did Finland's convincing win over Slovenia in its last game, in front of a packed Stozice arena, have a big impact?
Dettman: Actually, the impact grew from the beginning of the tournament rapidly. For the Finnish sports fan, if you beat Russia in a big game (Finland beat Russia in overtime on 8 September, 86-83), you just can't give them more. This is of course because of our history. It's the small brother fighting for its existence. Basketball was the number one news on the evening media and this is again a sign of how good the decision was to extend the tournament to 24 teams (before EuroBasket 2011) because what happens is you can achieve these kinds of heights. In 2011, we were very lucky (to advance to Second Round) but this time, we were a bit unlucky not to get to the Final Eight. Will people forget about this soon?
Dettmann: This lives for a decade. This gives people here an understanding that Finland can compete among the best in the world of sport. I'm not saying we are among the best, but we can compete and on any given day, we can win. This is what sport is about. People have dreams and hopes and sometimes the dreams come true. (The impact) expands in huge ways. In Helsinki before the EuroBasket, there was a basketball club that started with 12 girls yet one month later and there are 28 girls in the club.

People recognize me on the streets and what they say is they particularly like how the players behave, that they have been to school and are educated and that basketball is a non-violent sport. I think this is a value that we have to protect in our game. This is one thing that you can see if you look at the nordic countries as a whole, as one basketball market. This is why basketball is growing.

One more thing that was extremely exceptional, something that made them love it more, was after France won it and the players walked into the crowd (to celebrate with their fans). They saw that we have a crowd that can touch the players. Just think about the environment that basketball provides. From a personal standpoint, has your life changed? Have you been able to sit back and relax, yet?
Dettmann: I'd hoped that the stress would be over after the EuroBasket but the sleepless nights have continued. It's just everywhere. TV, radio, different magazines. Why is Finland getting better? What's the secret?
Dettmann: There is no secret, we just work together. But really, I'm never tired of basketball. Sometimes you wish you had a little bit more time for your family. This is what I call the Frankenstein story. If you develop sport, develop your game, you end up with this.

I remember when I started in Germany (national team) in 1997, the first qualifying game we had barely 1,000 spectators. But then later, Dirk (Nowitzki) sat and signed autographs for 45 minutes after one game. As much as you might get tired of the attention, this is one of the key things in sport. We have to move people and if we do, we're doing something.


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