The London Lions made British Basketball history on Tuesday the 11th of September, when they debuted in their first ever EuroCup match, ending a 15-year drought of any British-side competing in what is considered basketball's second-tier of European-club competition and third in all of worldwide club basketball behind the EuroLeague and the NBA.
They faced off against Israeli side, Hapoel Tel Aviv, who ended up taking the win. Despite the loss, a huge positive came out of it, with BT Sport announcing that they will be broadcasting all EuroCup games which feature the London Lions. They will also show the Semi-Finals and the Finals of the competition, irrespective of whether the Lions are in it or not.
This news comes off the back of an incredible summer of British Basketball, which saw a lot of exposure for the game. The All Star Classic, the matchup between Bronny James' California Basketball Club and Hoopsfix Elite, the Pro-AM, BallOut 3x3 plus many more events had received an exceptional amount of social media and television coverage, more so than what many of us have seen before. New deals with the British Basketball League are also showing big signs of growth for the professional game and now, this move by BT Sports adds to all of it in two very powerful ways.
The showcase of talent that a side from the UK is able to not only build with homegrown players but also NBA level players from abroad, attracts the attention of some of those NBA fans who watch the game for entertainment purposes more so than the beauty of it. The high flyers and the elite level scorers are incredible to watch; that can't be disputed. While many may want as many people as possible to watch the game for its nuances and technicality, the reality of it is many people in the UK just don't understand the game quite at that level yet, as they haven't been exposed to it enough. Being able to attract the players that make you just want to watch the game, is a start and is THE start the game needs over here.
Secondly, it's the cultural side; the way things are done during a game in regards to the fans. One thing that all British Basketball fans will mention when it comes to the live atmosphere of a game, is that it can often be pretty dead in comparison to many of the other European (not even NBA) games that they've seen. The energy that the Hapoel Tel Aviv fans were giving in the game against the London Lions was something that can be very much likened to any high-calibre football match and that is no exaggeration.
Huge credit to the @HapoelTLVBC for the atmosphere at last nights #eurocup game with the @LondonLions— Courtsider Basketball 🏀 (@courtsiderhoops) October 12, 2022
Would this work in the BBL? #britishbasketball pic.twitter.com/ocwf0S31wH
Just by BT Sport showcasing this for not only the London Lions games but also the Semi-Finals and Finals (which will most definitely be a spectacle to behold) will show not just current British Basketball fans, but those who just enjoy sport, how incredible of an atmosphere a basketball game can truly be, hopefully encouraging those who do attend their next BBL, WBBL or even NBL game, to start a similar fan culture in creating that sort of game environment. The Newcastle Eagles gave us a glimpse of what every British Basketball home game should like and is something that we hope, especially off the back of this new deal with BT Sports, will grow and continue for many years to come.
Now THIS is what British Basketball should look like for EVERY home game. BBL, WBBL & NBL clubs, take note.— HOOPER (@hooperofcl) October 1, 2022
(📸 via: theoriginal_bigdave/IG) pic.twitter.com/scrSeY8yr1