Leicester Riders have announced that they will take up FIBA’s invitation and apply to compete in the Basketball Champions League following back-to-back treble winning seasons in the British Basketball League.
The Riders will apply to enter the Basketball Champions League for the 2018/19 season and, if successful, they will be the first British team in European competition for over a decade.
It would be the first time the club has 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 Champions League invite automatically goes to the winners of the top club competitions in over 50 European countries with professional basketball leagues, and 56 teams will ultimately be selected to take part in the competition.
The Champions League Board will meet on June 27 to review all applications, and decide the 56 clubs who will be confirmed in the competition.
24 teams will be seeded straight into the pool stage, while the other 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 is also excited by the opportunity, adding: “It’s exciting."
"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.”
There will be 3 qualifying rounds. The first round takes place in the third week of September.
Be sure to follow @RidersBball on all social media for a behind the scenes look at the Leicester Riders as the summer continues.