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British Basketball 101: Everything You Need to Join the Excitement!

Is British basketball a world of high-paced thrills you’ve been missing out on, right on your doorstep? Our GB basketball 101 is a complete guide to joining in the fun of this vibrant, national sport. 

With our introduction to the essentials, you’ll be ready to explore the UK basketball league, hailed for being tough, highly underrated, athletic and very quick.

Starting with the questions a newcomer to the sport will often ask, let’s take a closer look… 


Does London Have a Basketball Team?

Action shot for British Basketball 101 guideLondon does have a thriving basketball team, that is also part of a well-supported and successful league network. 

In addition to being in London, the renowned London Lions, are  the British Basketball League Champions and Cup holders – as well as teams from locations across GB from Surrey and Plymouth to Manchester and Glasgow.

The British Basketball League, or BBL, includes 11 teams and a range of tournaments such as the BBL Championship, BBL Cup, BBL Trophy and glittering BBL Play-off Finals at the O2 Arena…so following a team guarantees a packed season with plenty of twists and turns. 


Who Are The British Basketball League Teams? 

Bristol Flyers: Promoted to the BBL in 2014 when they changed their name from Bristol Academy Flyers, one of GB’s largest teams has a history history spanning back to 2006. 

Cheshire Phoenix: Another team with a name change – four in fact – and a proud history, the former Cheshire Jets can trace their time in their area to 1984.  

Glasgow Rocks: With a home in the superb Emirates Arena, this Radisson Red-sponsored team plays in blue, similar to the Scottish national football side, but boasts a fan base built up over 21 years. 

Leicester Riders: The Riders started out in the 1960s in Loughborough, an English town famous for its sporting DNA thanks to the celebrated Loughborough University,  and have been making their mark ever since.

London Lions: The Lions have grown, across four decades, from representing Hemel Hempstead, Watford and Milton Keynes to becoming the London Lions in 2012 and finding a home in the Copper Box Arena. 

Manchester Giants: Although just eight years old on paper, Manchester Giants took their name from a previous team and joined the BBL in 2012, debuting in their first competitive game against London Lions. 

Newcastle Eagles: The highly-regarded Esh Group Newcastle Eagles have a history spanning over four decades and a packed trophy cabinet! Once opened, their Eagles Community Arena will be one of the newest UK sports venues. 

Plymouth Raiders: Dating back to the 1970s, the Raiders are among the veterans of the sport and have reached a string of finals in recent years. Their home is the imposing Plymouth Pavillions. 

Sheffield Sharks: A mainstay of top-tier British basketball, DBL Sharks Sheffield – formerly named Sheffield Forgers (after the city’s steel industry) – are stalwarts of the sport in the UK. 

Surrey Scorchers: Recently climbing the BBL standings year-on-year, the Scorchers’ creation in 2005 as Guildford Heat has been followed by a number of name changes until their current identity was created in 2015. 

Worcester Wolves: A 19 year history has included a move to the Worcester Arena for this University of Worcester-owned team. Solid Cup and Trophy runs have made the Wolves a ‘one to watch’. 


What Are The Rules in British Basketball? 

Let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions to help understand enough about the basic rules to come and enjoy the live spectacle of British basketball to the full! 

How long is a basketball game in the UK? Under FIBA rules, there are four quarters of 10 minutes played. And, like many sports with roots in the USA, there’s no such thing as a draw! Teams play through ‘overtime’ periods, similar to extra time in British soccer/ football. 

How many points is a shot worth when inside the opposition’s semicircleOutside the three point line a shot is worth, as you’d expect, three points.  

How many steps are there in basketball? Just as you’d find in the US sport, only two steps can be taken without bouncing the ball on the court to avoid ‘travelling’. 

Are there periods in basketball? British basketball includes both two minute breaks between quarters and a 15 minute break halfway through the game. 

How does a basketball game begin? A ‘jump ball’, thrown by the referee, is used to compete for possession at the very start of a British basketball game. 

How long does a British basketball game last? Simply, until any overtime is played! However, the game may have been settled during four quarters of ten minutes each with two minutes between quarters and the 15 minute halftime. 


Does England Have a Basketball League? 

Yes! Although the British Basketball League is a GB set-up as it also includes Glasgow Rocks, taking the structure beyond the Scottish border. 

The BBL’s highly-competitive, franchise-based, structure includes representatives from the 11 clubs on its board of directors. 

Games are played from September to May across the 11 venues provided by the top-tier clubs. 


Where Can I See BBL Live Stats? 

BBL live stats, plus standings, fixtures and more, can be found on the British Basketball League website in their live stats section. 

You’ll also find player information and club details covering all the GB teams. 


Who Are ‘London Lions Basketball’? 

Simply, a leading British Basketball League men’s and women’s team (women known as BA London Lions). 

A professional team offering a complete entertainment experience, the Lions use basketball to engage young people and bring an arena atmosphere to UK basketball. 

The high-performing London Lions are known to draw large crowds to their home games in London’s Copper Box Arena thanks to the excitement and fast-pace of the sport in a superb venue. 

The owner of the team, Vince Macaulay, is also head coach. Liverpool-born Vince, who made his mark on the British sport as a player, has increased the team’s fortunes in recent years to create a leading force in GB basketball. 

How to join the action? 

London Lions season ticket: Buying a London Lions season ticket (see here) is a great way to enjoy professional basketball in London. Season tickets give access to a huge range of games, reduced price additional tickets, discounted merchandise and your own seat at the Copper Box Arena. Options including a Half Season Ticket (for home games only), VIP and accessible season tickets are available. 

London Lions league table: You can follow the London Lions’ league position here and the BA London Lions women’s team here. Better still, watch the action in person and show your support. 

London Lions jersey: London Lions merchandise is on sale here and is a great way to both get behind the team AND encourage others to do the same. Don’t forget that discount if you buy a season ticket. Personalisation and customised items are available. 

London Lions basketball trials: For open trials, including junior trials, keep a close eye on the latest Lions news on the London Lions website and social media channels such as Facebook. 

Players can also sent their details to the team directly: 

Where Can I Find Information About British Basketball League Club Venues? 

Bristol FlyersWISE Arena, Bristol (capacity: 750) 

Cheshire PhoenixCheshire Oaks Arena, Ellesmere Port (capacity: 1,400) 

Glasgow RocksEmirates Arena, Glasgow (capacity: 6,500) 

Leicester RidersMorningside Arena, Leicester (capacity: 2,400) 

London LionsCopper Box Arena, London (capacity: 7,000) 

Manchester GiantsTrafford Sportsdome, Manchester (capacity: 1,100) 

Newcastle EaglesEagles Community Arena, Newcastle (capacity: 3,000) 

Plymouth RaidersPlymouth Pavillions, Plymouth (capacity: 1,500) 

Sheffield SharksEnglish Institute of Sport, Sheffield (capacity: 1,200) 

Surrey ScorchersSurrey Sports Park, Guildford (capacity: 1,000) 

Worcester WolvesUniversity of Worcester Arena, Worcester (capacity: 2,500) 


Does England Have a Basketball Team? 

Again…yes! And like the British Basketball League, the ‘GB Men’ British basketball team represents other areas of GB, as the name suggests, as opposed to being solely the England basketball team.

Competing in EuroBasket competitions, as well as the London Olympics in 2012, the UK basketball team has had to work hard to finance its operation in competition with other national team sports. 


Is There a GB Basketball Women’s Team? 

The GB women’s basketball team joined the international body FIBA in 2015. The team qualified for the 2019 EuroBasket competition – to be played in Serbia and Latvia – with a decisive win over Portugal in Manchester. 

The national team is supported by a Women’s British Basketball League structure featuring familiar brands such as the BA London Lions. 

The WBBL boasts a broader geographical spread of teams than the BBL, thanks to the inclusion of Scotland’s Caledonia Pride and Cardiff Met Archers from Wales. 


Are There British Players in the NBA? 

While there are, of course, USA-born players in the British Basketball League, British basketball is long established and therefore has ‘exported’ players into the international sport. 

As well as connecting the NBA and the GB sport in this way, London-born Teddy Okereafor represents GB’s homegrown talent by playing for Greek  team Holargos BC. 


Who Are ‘Basketball England’ and ‘GB Basketball’? 

While Basketball England looks after, of course, on the sport in England as a governing body, the umbrella group for basketball beyond England is GB Basketball. 

Basketball England – with a vision to ‘create a sport that’s valued in every community and accessible in every school, college and university, and inspires the wider population to be engaged in the game’ – manages a Talent System for the sport as well as ownership of strategy for the sport in England.

Start your adventure with British basketball – London Lions tickets available here