European professional club basketball system

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Professional basketball clubs in Europe can compete in a number of different competitions, including national leagues, regional (multi-national) leagues, and continental competitions. It is therefore possible for clubs from some countries to take part in three levels of competition in the same season. Clubs can generally qualify for European competitions through performance in their national leagues. The EuroLeague is considered the top level competition in Europe, and the second highest-quality league in the world, after the NBA.

Continental competitions[edit]

There are currently four different competitions which are branded as Europe-wide, controlled by two competing governing bodies - two by EuroLeague Basketball and two by FIBA. Clubs which compete in these competitions also play in their national leagues. Other than the 11 licensed clubs in the EuroLeague, clubs generally qualify for these competitions based on their performance in the national or regional league the previous season.

The EuroLeague is the most prestigious and highest-profile competition, organised by EuroLeague Basketball, and each year involves clubs from between 9 and 11 countries. 16 teams take part - 11 clubs hold 10-year licenses, and 5 more clubs qualify each season. Currently these 5 places are taken by 1 club from each of the Liga ACB in Spain, the German Bundesliga, the VTB United League and the Adriatic League, as well as the winner of the previous season's EuroCup,[1] or the winner of the previous EuroLeague if they do not qualify by another route.

The EuroCup is a lower level competition, also organised by EuroLeague Basketball, and currently made up of 24 teams from around Europe. Clubs from over 30 countries have taken part. Euroleague Basketball offers places in the EuroCup to the two finalists of each season's Basketball Champions League.

FIBA's Basketball Champions League, which began in 2016, is another competition at a lower level than the EuroLeague. Initially FIBA had intended to take over the running of the EuroLeague, but this was rejected by the clubs involved, so FIBA began its own rival competition. The Champions League involves 32 teams each year; to date clubs from over 20 countries have taken part.

FIBA also organises its own secondary competition, the FIBA Europe Cup. 32 teams compete, and teams which finish lowest in the Champions League regular season drop down into the later stages of the FIBA Europe Cup. The FIBA Europe Cup champion has the opportunity to play in the next season's Champions League.[2] As of 2018, clubs from over 30 national federations have taken part.

The names of the various European and regional club competitions have frequently changed over time.[3]

Regional leagues[edit]

In addition to national leagues in individual countries, there are leagues which include clubs from several countries.

The ABA League, commonly called the Adriatic League, began in 2001 and consists of clubs from the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia). At different times, the league has also included clubs from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Israel. Clubs generally also compete in their own national leagues in the same season, after the conclusion of the ABA League season. The winner of the league qualifies for the next season's EuroLeague.

The VTB United League is made up of mostly Russian clubs, as well as a smaller number of clubs from nearby countries - currently Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Kazakhstan and Poland. It serves as the top division of the Russian national league system. One club from the league qualifies for the next season's EuroLeague, in addition to CSKA Moscow, which holds a EuroLeague license.

Other multi-national leagues in Europe include the Baltic Basketball League (2004-2018), the Central European Basketball League (2008–2010) and the Balkan International Basketball League (began in 2008).

National leagues[edit]

Each country generally has its own league system, with various divisions which involve promotion and relegation, as well as playoffs following the regular season. Typically a league system will include professional and semi-professional clubs at the top, with amateur clubs lower down.

The Spanish Liga ACB is considered to be the highest quality league in Europe, and contributes at least four clubs to the EuroLeague each season. Other leagues among the strongest include Turkey's BSL, Italy's LBA, the LNB Pro A in France and the Greek Basket League.[4]

See also[edit]

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