London and Paris calling

2023-03-07T12:13:46+00:00 2023-03-07T12:13:48+00:00.

Aris Barkas

07/Mar/23 12:13
London PAris EuroCup EuroLeague

With the holy grail of European basketball being a foothold in the UK, the London Lions are emerging in the 7DAYS EuroCup while Paris Basketball has established the French capital as a major player in the hoops landscape

By Aris Barkas/

With four rounds left in the 7DAYS EuroCup Regular Season, both the London Lions and Paris Basketball have secured their places in the playoffs. Yes, only two teams from each group are ultimately left out, but by any measure, this is still quite a feat.

Ηaving teams from the UK and French capitals playing meaningful basketball and in theory having the chance to make it to the EuroLeague by winning a very open competition, especially this season, can be a game-changer for the whole of European basketball.

Two of the biggest markets in Europe, which until now had been absent from the sport, are making strides this season and they are both proving that there’s a lot of upside both on and off the court.

The Lions’ roar

The London Lions are not your typical UK team, mainly because it’s a U.S.-owned club. Miami-based alternative investment firm 777 Partners is behind them and they were not shy about spending by UK standards in order to create a competitive team.

Sam Dekker, Kostas Koufos, Jordan Taylor, Tomislav Zubcic and Vojtech Hruban playing for an English team was almost unheard of until this season. That’s not the case anymore, and there’s no turning back. Those five players, specifically, are capable of being part of any EuroCup roster and even having a role in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague.

Koufos did it with CSKA and Olympiacos and Taylor with ALBA and ASVEL. Meanwhile, Dekker is the second-best player in the competition, according to the performance index ratings, and an MVP candidate. The Lions have a decent 6-8 record so far despite still being a work in progress on the court, but nobody can underestimate their abilities or high ambitions.

All those facts create a solid basketball proposal from the UK and finally, the idea of having a club from London even in the EuroLeague doesn’t seem farfetched as it did even one year ago.

Paris has arrived

In London, everything changed just one year after the arrival of 777 Partners. In Paris, there’s also an American involved in the project.

You might have heard the name David Kahn from his days as an executive with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He is been part of the Paris Basketball project since the summer of 2018 when the team was playing in the French second division.

In this case, the club’s growth is much more organic and the results are even more spectacular. Paris has an impressive 9-5 record while playing an exciting brand of basketball thanks to head coach Will Weaver, a former NBA assistant who got the chance to build something unique in France.

The impetus in Paris’s case is a local talent. Big man Ismael Kamagate, the top shot-blocker of the EuroCup, is having a special season, ranking among the top five players in PIR.

He is not the only well-known name from a roster that also includes former Olympiacos and Zalgiris Kaunas player Axel Toupane, who was also part of the Milwaukee Bucks championship team, young gun Juhann Begarin and former NBA dunk contest winner Jeremy Evans, who also played for Milan and Panathinaikos.

Sneaky contenders

The Lions have a lot of individual talent but have not yet produced a finished product on the court that can make them dark horses for the EuroCup trophy. They are respectable, but that’s not the case with Paris.

The numbers are proving that the French club can turn many heads in the playoffs, and with the knockout games format, who knows what they can achieve?

What is already known in both cases, however, is that Paris and London have finally arrived in European basketball.