BRITISH basketball has received a major boost this week with news that the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four will be heading to the 02 Arena next May.
The performances of Chicago-based Luol Deng and his British teammates at the London Olympics caught the imagination of the nation in the summer.
However, with Britain’s premier players plying their trade abroad, the Euroleague final will offer a rare opportunity for British spectators to watch the continent’s best in action in May – hopefully paving the way, long-term, for a London franchise.
The Euroleague Final is a three-day championship taking place from May 10-12 and marks the finale of an eight-month competition involving the 24 top European teams.
Euroleague has committed to hosting the season-ending event in London in 2013, with an option to also play the 2014 event at The O2 Arena, as part of a long-term strategy to commit to the development of basketball in the UK.
Paul Blake, chairman of the British Basketball League (BBL), said: “We are really excited about the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four coming to London and the opportunity it will present the sport of basketball in the UK.
“With a long term strategy, I hope to see a British team competing in the league in the future.”
Euroleague is Europe’s premier basketball competition and, in the 12 years since it was established, it has grown to become the world’s second largest basketball competition after the NBA.
The 24 teams compete across 12 major European cities and regularly host pre-season games against touring NBA teams.