British Basketball League: A Unique Format and Intense Competition
The British Basketball League, or England BBL, is the highest level of men’s professional basketball in Great Britain, with representation from Scotland as well as England. There are ten teams in the British Basketball League and is a part of the FIBA Europe Confederation. These ten teams are member franchises, which means there is no automatic promotion or relegation which tends to be a popular system in European countries, but with franchises, you can’t promote or relegate to lower levels.
The ten franchise British Basketball League games are as follows:
- Bristol Flyers
- Cheshire Phoenix
- Glasgow Rocks
- Leicester Riders
- London Lions
- Manchester Giants
- Newcastle Eagles
- Plymouth City Patriots
- Sheffield Sharks
- Surrey Scorchers
There will be a new team in the 2022-2023 season, the Reading Rockets. The British Basketball League was founded in 1987, so there is a history behind this league compared to other international basketball leagues.
The most successful team in the British Basketball League is the Newcastle Eagles who have seven championship titles. The Leicester Riders earned their fifth title in the 2020-2021 season and are reigning champions this year.
The BBL Championship competition consists of a double round robin where each team will play all other teams twice, once home and once away. This doesn’t mean a huge swath of games like you’d see in other leagues, but the season is quite long, from September to April, so there aren’t a huge number of games to be played in a close time frame.
What sets this league apart from other basketball leagues is that there is no actual playoff round to determine who the BBL Champion is. The team at the top of the standings at the end of the season wins the championship title, much like in British and European soccer leagues. This is essentially winning your division, if you were playing in other leagues.
Once that title is earned, the top eight teams head to playoffs, which is a knockout tournament, but with three-game series. These teams are competing for a different honor – the BBL Cup. The BBL Cup wasn’t introduced until 2003 and allowed for the league to introduce a playoff tournament without actually compromising the original league championship.