By Ryan Walters, Sportsbeat
BRITISH basketball has received a major boost this week with news the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four will be heading to London's O2 Arena in May.
The performances of Chicago Bulls small forward Luol Deng and his British team-mates at the London 2012 Olympic Games 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 spectators in the country 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 event taking place from May 10 to May 12 and marks the finale of an eight month-long competition involving the top 24 European teams.
Euroleague has committed to hosting the season ending event in London in 2013, with an option to also play the 2014 edition at the O2 Arena, as part of a long-term strategy to commit to the development of basketball in the UK.
Chairman of the British Basketball League (BBL) Paul Blake 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.
Euroleague Basketball President and CEO Jordi Bertomeu said: “Euroleague is thrilled to bring the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four competition to The O2 Arena in London.
“We are currently in talks to establish a partnership with the BBL, where we also want to run an incredible CSR programme, leaving a lasting legacy with the hope that basketball in the UK will eventually be mature enough to have a team in the Euroleague competition.”
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