Real Madrid's Sergio Rodriguez practices at London's O2 Arena Thursday in preparation for the Euroleague Final Four.
The Champions League of basketball comes to London Friday "in an effort to sell a version of the professional game that prides itself on not being the NBA," according to Ashling O'Connor of the LONDON TIMES.
Few British sports fans "will be familiar with Euroleague basketball," but organizers "hope a three-day season finale staged in the O2 arena will change that as they use London as a bridgehead into a potentially lucrative, geographically strategic but as yet relatively indifferent market."
The Final Four "is set to be a sell-out." About 90% of the 15,000 four-game passes "have already been sold with about a third going to U.K. residents." Most of those "are expatriates from the communities that follow the four participating teams: Real Madrid, Barcelona Regal, Olympiakos Piraeus and CSKA Moscow."
The balance are traveling fans "making a weekend of it in London." But there is real hope that enough new fans "will be won over during a maiden U.K .tour whose long-term objective is to raise interest levels and playing standards high enough for a British team to compete credibly and continuously" (LONDON TIMES, 5/9