RIDERS POISED FOR BCL

The Leicester Riders have applied to play in next season’s FIBA Basketball Champions League.

If successful, the British Basketball League champions will be the first British team in European competition for over a decade.

They last competed in European competition since the 1991/1992 season where the Riders faced Spanish powerhouse CB Zaragoza in the first round of the second tier Korac Cup, losing both games.

The move should be a formality with Europe’s third-tier competition accepting the winners of the top domestic divisions in over 50 European countries with professional basketball leagues with a 56-team fields with the initial block of three qualifying rounds starting on September 20.

The Champions League Board will meet on 27th June to review all applications.

24 teams will be seeded straight into the pool stage, while the other up to 32 teams will enter qualifying rounds to determine the additional 8 teams that make the pool stage.

Riders Chairman Kevin Routledge said: “Having won the BBL Championship for the last three seasons, the prospect of playing against top European Clubs, and the champions of other countries, is definitely part of our vision for the Riders.

“It will be a major logistical effort, and would put a big demand on the coaching staff and the players, because the competition takes place in mid-week, and the travel could be over very long distances. This would be on top of the normal BBL competitions, so the demands on the Club are immense. But we are getting a lot of encouragement from our sponsors and partners, and we have an ambition as a Club to take that next step.”

Head Coach Rob Paternostro, who revealed Riders intent to MVP after the recent BBL Playoff Final, is excited by the opportunity.

“We have talked about this for a while now and it’s always been an ambition of ours to take the club into a European competition.

“I did it as a player in the 2001/02 season with the Birmingham Bullets. It was an awesome experience playing against teams from around Europe, but I’m also aware of the quality of player and depth you need to be able to compete and play as many games as it requires.”

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