Russia's men's basketball team will acclimatize to the conditions in Venezuela before taking part in July's wildcard qualifying tournament there for the London Olympics, coach David Blatt told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.
Russia narrowly missed out on outright qualification for the Games after finishing third at September's Eurobasket tournament, which was won by Spain. Russia now has get past the semifinals of the wildcard event in Caracas, Venezuela, on July 2-8, to gain one of the three remaining berths in the 12-team Olympic event.
Coach Blatt is leaving as little as possible to chance, saying the team is scouting out a suitable pre-tournament location for their preparations.
"I still don't know where we are going to be based right before the qualification," the American-Israeli coach said. "But we know that we'll be training first in Russia, and then abroad. We'll try and choose a place with a similar climate and time zone."
The country will have one or two warm-up games in Russia and then a further three or four abroad, in two different locations, Blatt said.
Russian basketball has not enjoyed the glory of its double Olympic gold-winning Soviet predecessor, which failed to medal only once from 1952 to the Soviet collapse - at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles that the country boycotted.
Russia finished eighth at Sydney 2000 and ninth at Beijing 2008 in the only two Olympic appearances since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Fighting it out with Russia for one of three remaining Olympic places are Angola, Nigeria, Jordan, Korea, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, New Zealand, Macedonia, Lithuania and Greece. The last two are the only countries ranked higher than Russia in the qualification tournament.
Already qualified for London are the hosts, Great Britain, the United States, Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, China, Tunisia, and Australia.