This Sunday, London Lions and Newcastle Eagles will provide the backdrop for the British Basketball League’s season finale and both teams have an opportunity to propel the BBL to new heights.
The BBL has taken the brave step of staging this weekend’s Playoff final at the 18,000-capacity O2 Arena after seemingly outgrowing its usual finals home, the 12,000-seat National Indoor Arena in Birmingham and the 12,500-seat Wembley Arena in London, which has housed the final for the last two seasons.
The popular Hoops Aid charity event will begin the day’s basketball festivities with celebrities, sporting personalities, some of the country’s heroes, current and ex-servicemen playing the most entertaining and interactive games of basketball with a wheelchair game and an all-celebrity clash.
Then, the Lions and Eagles will enter for the main event, knowing that they have a tough act to follow after the fun and glamour of the Hoops Aid games.
But the big game situation shouldn’t faze the two teams, both featuring a mix of veterans, Great Britain internationals and talented youngsters to look out for in the future. Instead though, the sides will be aware that they have a golden chance to promote the BBL on its biggest stage for years, since the days of the London Towers competing in the Euroleague back in 2001 and 2002.
From 2003 onwards, the British Basketball has been labeled an amateurish league from many of its critics, most notably former England international and NBA star John Amaechi and coverage of the league in the national news has been slim to zero.
But over the last two years, the league has grown slowly but surely with players from recognised schools in the U.S. coming over, television deals being finalised and more importantly, teams moving, or due to move into purpose-built facilities, which could pave the way for possible European competition in the next couple of years, dependent of course on finance.
You also, on a personal note have the right teams competing in the Playoff final. The Newcastle Eagles, on course for a clean sweep of trophies this season against the London Lions, a team that play its home games a mere eight kilometers away. So if they marketed this game correctly, they would have an edge in the bulk of support on Sunday.
So with the BBL Playoff Final being staged in Europe’s premier indoor venue and a possible crowd of 17,000 on Sunday afternoon, not to mention a game involving celebrities such as singer Jermaine Jackman, actor Colin Salmon, TV personality Calum Best and ex-NBAer Priest Lauderdale beforehand – the opportunity for both the Lions and Eagles to market the BBL on the court – could result in the league becoming more friendly with an arena that even the Euroleague could not crack.
Let’s hope the BBL, the London Lions and Newcastle Eagles can give us a spectacle to enjoy.