England Under-18s have received a wild card entry to compete at the 2013 Euroleague Basketball Nike International Junior Tournament (NIJT) in London, UK from May 9 to 12.
The event, which will be held in parallel with the 2013 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four, 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 side, made up of the talented 1995 born generation and coached by Steve Bucknall, will be known as ‘Team England’ and face off against Europe’s elite youth clubs as part of their preparation for the Division A European Championships.
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.
“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,” said Euroleague Basketball CEO and President, Jordi Bertomeu. “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 (Barking Abbey also competed in the NIJT qualifying tournament in London in 2010 – Ed). This is one more step in our strategy of improving the awareness of basketball in such an important market as the UK.”
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 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,” added Keith Mair, England Basketball CEO. “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.”
England Basketball are also teaming up with the NIJT qualifying tournament in Belgrade, Serbia, this weekend as part of a coaching development initiative. A selection of national team coaches will be flown out to attend the tournament as well as clinics and workshops.
Thoughts? Will you be attending the NIJT?!