Basketball Champions League: Leicester Riders awarded place in European competition

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Five great plays as Leicester Riders win BBL Play-offs

British basketball champions Leicester Riders will be the first UK side to play in Europe in more than a decade after being accepted into the Basketball Champions League.

The Riders have won the treble of the BBL, BBL play-offs and BBL Trophy in the past two seasons and would be the first UK side to play in the event.

They will enter as one of 24 teams in the first qualification round.

The last British side to play in Europe was Guildford Heat in 2007-08.

They lost all 10 of their games in the ULEB Cup, which is now known as the EuroCup, the second tier of European basketball.

The Champions League does not have sides from that competition, or the top-tier EuroLeague, taking part.

"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," said chairman Kevin Routledge earlier this month.

"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 midweek, 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."

The competition has three qualifying rounds, starting on 20 September, before a 32-team group stage.

"I did it as a player in the 2001-02 season with the Birmingham Bullets," added Riders coach Rob Paternostro.

"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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