RIDERS GET EARLY BCL START

Leicester Riders have got the official green light to return to European competition.

The British Basketball League champions will enter the Basketball Champions League at its first qualifying round on 20 and 22 September along with 23 other clubs from across the continent.

It is the first of three qualifying phases ahead of the league’s regular season that tips off on 9 October with Riders likely to take the option of dropping into the fourth-tier FIBA Europe Cup if they fail to reach the main competition, guaranteeing them at least eight European games.

This year 32 teams will contest the Regular Season with just six qualifiers joining 26 directly qualified clubs. They will play in four groups of 8 teams each with the top four in each group going through to a home and away Round of 16 ahead of the Quarter-Finals which will determine the Final Four. The overall winner will earn the coveted €1 million prize money.

1st round teams (the 12 winners will qualify for the 2nd round):
AEK Larnaca (CYP), Aris (GRE), Avtodor Saratov (RUS), Bakken Bears (DEN), CSM Oradea (ROU), Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO), Donar Groningen (NED), FC Porto (POR), Fribourg Olympic (SUI), Hapoel Tel Aviv (ISR), Kalev Cramo (EST), Karhu Basket Kauhajoki (FIN), LEICESTER RIDERS (GBR), Lukoil Levski (BUL), Movistar Estudiantes (ESP), Nizhny Novgorod (RUS), Norrköping Dolphins (SWE), Polski Cukier Torun (POL), Proximus Spirou Charleroi (BEL), Red October Cantù (ITA), Siauliai (LTU), Szolnoki Olaj (HUN), Telenet Giants Antwerp (BEL), Tsmoki Minsk (BLR).

2nd round (the 12 winners from the 1st round will face each other)

Directly qualified for 3rd round (the 6 winners will qualify for the Regular Season):
JIP Pardubice (CZE), Lietkabelis Panevezys (LTU), medi Bayreuth (GER), Nanterre 92 (FRA), Sakarya Buyuksehir (TUR), UCAM Murcia (ESP).

Regular Season (alphabetically)

AEK (GRE – holders), Anwil Wloclawek (POL), Banvit (TUR), Besiktas Sompo Japan (TUR), Brose Baskets Bamberg (GER), CEZ Nymburk (CZE), Eskisehir Basket (TUR), Hapoel Jerusalem (ISR), Hapoel UNET Holon (ISR), Iberostar Tenerife (ESP), JDA Dijon Basket (FRA), Le Mans Sarthe Basket (FRA), MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg (GER), Montakit Fuenlabrada (ESP), Neptunas Klaipeda (LTU), Oostende (BEL), Opava (CZE), PAOK (GRE), Petrol Olimpija (SLO), Promitheas Patras (GRE), Segafredo Virtus Bologna (ITA), Sidigas Avellino (ITA), SIG Strasbourg (FRA), Telekom Baskets Bonn (GER), Umana Reyer Venezia Mestre (ITA), Ventspils (LAT).

Basketball Champions League CEO Patrick Comninos said: “The first two seasons of the competition were an outstanding success and the strength of this year’s field suggests that it will get even tougher on the court and even more fascinating for hundreds of thousands of fans across Europe who follow at arenas, through great TV coverage and via social media.”

An initial draw sorting the Qualification Rounds and the Regular Season phase will take place at the House of Basketball on Wednesday 11 July.

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