Basketball: Towers reject chance to play in European tournament

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The Independent Online

The London Towers have put their European ambitions on hold for the new season beginning on 5 October by turning down an invitation to enter the ULEB Cup, a breakaway cup tournament backed by the Union of European Basketball Leagues.

The Towers performed poorly over the last two season's in Europe's premier competition, the Euroleague, run by the sport's world governing body Fiba, and as predicted were not offered a place in next season's competition.

Now Towers have turned down the ULEB, the Birmingham Bullets will be the only British team playing in Europe once their place has been confirmed in a third competition, Fiba's Champions' Cup.

Towers' managing director Rick Taylor said his club will instead concentrate on the BBL competitions, which were all won by Chester Jets last season, and on completing their new arena in Barnet.

Taylor said: "This decision to step back for a year will give us time to focus on developing our new arena, which is crucial to our aspirations in Europe."

The Towers' laudable role as pathfinders for English basketball has always been hamstrung by the discrepancy between international regulations and the BBL's lax attitude which allows up to five Americans per team. There is an even bigger gulf for the new season, with the ULEB allowing only two non-Europeans, and Taylor said: "We would need to recruit two teams – one for the BBL and one for European competition."

Meanwhile, Chester have added Calvin Davis to their roster, the third American to join them so far this summer, and the Jets have promised to recruit a fourth before the new season starts.