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Team England receives wild card for 2013 Euroleague Basketball Nike International Junior Tournament

Barcelona, February 20, 2013. Euroleague Basketball is pleased to announce that Team England’s U18 national team have been awarded a wild card to compete at the 2013 Euroleague Basketball Nike International Junior Tournament (NIJT) in London, UK from May 9 to 12. The event is held in parallel with the 2013 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four, which will take place May 10 and 12 at The O2. The NIJT is Europe's elite youth club basketball tournament, where future stars face each other with the title of continental club champion on the line.

The wild card is one more step in Euroleague Basketball's strategy to work with all of the stakeholders involved in basketball in the UK in order to help continue to grow the sport domestically. England Basketball have shown tremendous strides in developing their youth players in recent years, with Team England's U18 Men being promoted to Division A last summer being a clear example. The team is coached by Steve Bucknall, Team England Senior's all-time leading scorer, and the first player born and bred in England to play in the NBA.

Team England joins three clubs who have already qualified as the winners of 2012-13 NIJT Qualifying Tournaments. KK Spars Sarajevo of Bosnia and Herzegovina won the Rome tournament, FIATC Joventut Badalona of Spain was victorious in the L’Hospitalet tournament, and Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius of Lithuania was the winner of the Siauliai tournament. A fourth qualifier will secure its place at the Belgrade Qualifying Tournament which is to be held February 22 to 24. The remaining three places in the eight-team field will be filled by Euroleague Basketball.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "The Nike International Junior Tournament is yet another opportunity to show off London's credentials as a world class host of elite sport. It is fantastic news that the England U18 men's team is set to take part in this basketball spectacular, which will help us build on the legacy of the 2012 Games. The London Lions are due to take up residence in the Copper Box and we are also seeing huge success with the London School of Basketball, a grassroots sports programme which I am funding with generous support from Nike."

Mr. Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball CEO and President, said: "Having a Nike International Junior Tournament participant representing England was one of our goals when bringing the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four to London as we believe it will engage the local public to come and watch the best junior teams on the continent. The England U18 men's team will bring a breath of fresh air to the tournament as first English team to participate in the tournament's history. This is one more step in our strategy of improving the awareness of basketball in such an important market as the UK."

Keith Mair, England Basketball CEO, said: "The invitation for the England U18 men’s team to compete in the Nike International Junior Tournament (NJIT) Finals in London from May 9 to 13 is a wonderful opportunity for our players, coaches and supporters.  The U18 men’s team’s performances have steadily improved in recent years, culminating in qualifying for the first time for the A Division of the FIBA Europe championships in July. The NJIT finals will greatly assist in preparing the team for that event.  In addition, and also reflecting the growth and development of basketball in England, a delegation of England national team coaches will attend one of the Nike IJT qualifying tournaments in Belgrade this month as a coach development initiative."

Lynn Merritt, Nike VP Global Basketball Sports Marketing, said: "Seven years ago we joined Euroleague Basketball in the Nike International Junior Tournament with one vision: raising talent of future basketball stars by organizing tournaments across Europe that would feature the best U18 players in Europe every season. The four qualifying tournaments and the final coinciding with the Euroleague Final Four have become the perfect stage for these young players to showcase their talent and get a taste of top professional basketball. Having Team England (U18 Men National Team) competing against the best junior teams in Europe is an important step to continue growing the sport  in the UK and globally, which is our common goal."

Notes to Editors

About the Nike International Junior Tournament:

The Nike International Junior Tournament is, without a doubt, the main opportunity for young rising basketball stars to show the world what they’re really made of. It is also an occasion for the game’s professionals as well as basketball enthusiasts around the world to spot the future prospects of the sport. The competition was introduced by Euroleague Basketball in 2003 during the Final Four in Barcelona and subsequently had its name associated to the world’s leading sports apparel brand in 2007. At first, the competition only included the yearly final phase organised in parallel with the Euroleague Final Four. However, several qualifying tournaments were introduced in the 2007/08 season (amounting to a total of 4 tournaments by the 2010/11 season) in order to give the Nike International Junior Tournament a larger dimension than it already had. 

Held in the British capital from the 9th to the 12th of May in parallel with the 2013 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four London, the 11th edition of the Nike International Junior Tournament will, once again, offer the world, basketball's European junior elite. The group stages of the competition will be played at the London Soccerdome, located at a 10 minute walking distance from The O2 where the final – of which the entrance is free – will be played as a high profile appetizer to the title match of the 2013 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four London.

The likes of Lithuania, the Toronto Raptors and former BC Lietuvos Rytas center Jonas Valaciunas; Israel, the Cleveland Cavaliers and former Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv forward Omri Casspi; or Russia, the Minnesota Timberwolves and former CSKA Moscow point guard Alexey Shved amongst others were first witnessed competing at the NIJT. Such a trend does not seem to be ending anytime soon making this year’s edition as attractive as the previous ones.

PARTICIPANTS: 8 TEAMS

  • England Under 18 National Team
  • KK Spars Sarajevo (Bosnia & Herzegovina) – Champion of the NIJT Città di Roma Tournament (Italy)
  • FIATC Joventut Badalona (Spain) – Champion of the Ciutat de L’Hospitalet Tournament (Spain)
  • Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius (Lithuania) Champion of the Siauliai Tournament (Lithuania)
  • Champion of the Belgrade Tournament (Serbia), to be played from the 22nd to the 24th of February
  • Wild Card entry
  • Wild Card entry
  • Wild Card entry

COMPETITION FORMAT

  • 4 day event: 9th – 12th of May
  • 13 games in total
  • Group Stages:
    • 9th – 11th of May
    • 2 randomly drawn groups of 4 teams
    • 4 games a day
  • Final
    • 12th of May
    • Winner of each group plays the final

About Euroleague Basketball

A global leader in sports management, Euroleague Basketball is enjoying its second decade of sustained growth as an inovative organizer of elite competitions and events. It now manages the continent's two premier basketball competitions, the Turkish Airlines Euroleague and the Eurocup, consisting of more than 50 teams from as many as 25 countries. Euroleague Basketball also directs the Nike International Junior Tournament, which crowns a young men's continental champion each spring. Through the Euroleague Basketball Institute and Euroleague For Life, the company promotes educational and charitable initiatives as varied as coaching clinics and benefit concerts that draw guests from around the world.

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