Champions League: London Lions’ schedule changed by Fiba

Champions League: London Lions' schedule changed by Fiba

London Lions players
Kervin Bristol (15) won the league and BBL Cup double with Lions in 2019

London Lions’ qualifying games for the Champions League have been changed from two rounds of home and away ties to a single tournament in Bulgaria.

International governing body Fiba changed the format because of coronavirus restrictions.

Lions will play Lithuania’s Neptunas Klaipeda in Botevgrad. If they win, the hosts or Tsmoki Minsk of Belarus await.

“We could end up playing the hosts but we feel two knockout rounds suit us well,” said Lions coach Vince Razaq.

The matches will be played in the week in which they would have played their second qualifying round, assuming they had beaten Klaipeda in the previous week.

“We get an extra week, but we didn’t need it,” said Razaq. “We were ahead of them so they get an extra week.”

If Lions fail to reach the Champions League group stage, they would play in the Europe Cup.

Lions’ pre-season signings include former NBA players DeAndre Liggins and Byron Mullens, the latter a 7ft centre who is eligible to play for Great Britain.

In addition, Lions have brought back forward-centre Kervin Bristol, who won the league with them two seasons ago, and signed former Sheffield guard Dirk Williams and Leicester Riders forward Shane Walker.

London’s proposal to rotate foreign players on their roster in domestic games to stay under the BBL’s adjusted £250,000-per-team salary cap was rejected by the league’s owners last week,

The decision means London cannot add further American players to the team to lighten the load of their European programme.

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