London Lions may have to head abroad for their Basketball Champions League qualifiers.

The reigning BBL champions are also signing Byron Mullens, who spent last season with Spanish side Estudiantes, sources close to the former NBA centre told MVP.

The 31-year-old, who played for the LA Clippers, Charlotte Bobcats and Philadelphia 76ers before heading overseas, has previously been named in Great Britain squads through having UK citizenship via a mother born in Middlesex.

His international odyssey since leaving the NBA in 2014 has also included stops in China, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, UAE and Iran but he becomes the most eyebrow-raising arrival in the British Basketball League for many years as a wave of signings arrives under grand plans unveiled by the club’s new owners.

However, his new team is now facing a late change to their season opening after organisers FIBA announced the initial two rounds will be converted to Final Fours at a single site.

In a statement, it was stated that the change has been made to accommodate the issues with travelling due to different Covid-19 conditions and quarantine rules in different nations.

Lions head coach Vince Macaulay confirmed the British Basketball League champions will bid to host one of the mini-tournaments but may be hamstrung by plans for most indoor sporting events in England to not resume until October. The hosts and further details will be announced by the end of the week, FIBA stated.

“This is an interesting development,” said Macaulay.

“We are 10 days into practice and focused on getting through, a Final Four should be advantageous to us, so we have asked if we can host the Final Four, the Copper Box Arena is one of the best venues in Europe and we believe we can generate national television for this.

“I hope we get to do this – what a way to start our BCL adventure.”

The Lions will now play a one-off semi-final against Lithuanian side Neptunas, who are the favourites to host the four teams involved in this part of the qualifier bracket.

The winners will then take on Balkan Botevgrad or Tsmoki Minsk in a single-game final with the prize of a place in the Group Stages of the BCL at stake.

If London lose, they will drop into the FIBA Europe Cup where, on Tuesday, they were drawn in Group E alongside the losers from three other Basketball Champions League brackets: Dnipro or Groningen, Mons-Hainault or Anwil Wloclawek – and Sporting Lisbon or Fribourg.

Photo: NBAE/Getty

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