By Tom Degun

new zealand_basketball_28-11-11December 4 - Both the New Zealand men's and women's basketball teams could be denied the opportunity to compete at the London 2012 Olympic Games unless they receive a major funding boost from Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC).

Basketball New Zealand are waiting anxiously for a decision on their funding application from SPARC subsidiary High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) which will allow them to compete in next year's final Olympic qualifying tournaments.

Both New Zealand basketball teams missed out on direct qualification for London 2012 when they were beaten in their respective Oceania qualifying series by Australia but they have each secured invites to FIBA's Olympic qualifying tournaments which will decide the final few spots for the Olympic basketball competition.

The men's Olympic qualifying tournament will take place on July 2 to 8, while the women's event will take place from June 26 to July 1 at venues likely to be in the Northern Hemisphere.

But cash-strapped Basketball New Zealand is relying on SPARC funding to cover costs of attending the tournaments and without it, will have to withdraw from competing in them.

Should the funding arrive, New Zealand's men will line up against Angola, Dominican Republic, Macedonia, Greece, Jordan, Korea, Lithuania, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Russia and Venezuela in the qualifying event with three places available at the Olympics.

Meanwhile New Zealand's women would be pitted against Argentina, Canada, Cuba, Japan, Korea, Senegal, Mali, Croatia, Turkey, the Czech Republic, France and Croatia, with five Olympic spots up for grabs.

Tim Hamilton_28-11-11Basketball New Zealand boss Tim Hamilton (pictured) declined to comment on the matter, other than to say the application was before HPSNZ, but is understood the organisation will need well over $100,000 (£64,190/€74,770).

HPSNZ has $8.6 million (£5.5 million/€6.4 million) available for contestable sports hoping to compete in at London 2012.

Allocation decisions are not due until later this month but Basketball New Zealand has urged an earlier ruling to meet FIBA deadlines.

Both teams would appear to present a worthy case for the funding as the women are ranked sixteenth in the world and the men eighteenth, which is a major accomplishment considering their lack of funding.

The men have displayed good form in recent years as they reached the last 16 at the 2010 World Championships with a display that saw them claim victories over France, Canada and Lebanon.

Meanwhile, the women reached the quarterfinals at the Athens 2004 Olympics and also beat the highly rated China earlier this year.

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