European professional club basketball system

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 several levels of competition in the same season. Clubs usually qualify for European competitions through performance in their national or regional leagues, with the exception of wild cards.

Continental competitionsEdit

There are currently four competitions which are branded as Europe-wide, two controlled by Euroleague Basketball, and two by FIBA Europe. Clubs which compete in these competitions also play in their national and/or regional leagues. Clubs usually qualify for these competitions based on their performance in the national or regional leagues in the previous season.

The EuroLeague is Euroleague Basketball's premier competition, and each year involves clubs from 10 countries. It is historically the most prestigious competition in European basketball.

The EuroCup is Euroleague Basketball's secondary competition, and currently made up of 24 teams from around Europe. Clubs from over 30 countries have taken part. The two finalists of the EuroCup qualify for the next season's EuroLeague.

The Basketball Champions League, which began in 2016, is FIBA Europe's highest competition. Initially, FIBA established EuroLeague in 1958 but never trademarketed the name which was later taken over by Euroleague Basketball. The Basketball Champions League involves around 40 teams; to date, clubs from over 20 countries have taken part.

The Europe Cup is FIBA Europe's secondary competition. Up to 32 teams compete, and the teams which did not enter in the Basketball Champions League regular season have the option to drop down into the regular season of the Europe Cup. As of 2019, clubs from over 30 national federations have taken part.

Other competitionsEdit


Regional leaguesEdit

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, Montenegro, North Macedonia, 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 have included the Baltic Basketball League (2004-2018), the Central European Basketball League (2008–2010), and the Balkan International Basketball League (began in 2008).

National leaguesEdit

Each country generally has its own league system, with various divisions which involve promotion and relegation, as well as playoffs following the regular season.

The Spanish Liga ACB is generally considered to be the highest quality national league in Europe, and contributes at least four clubs to the EuroLeague each season. Other leagues among the strongest include Russia's VTB United League, Turkey's BSL, the Greek Basket League, Italy's LBA, and the LNB Pro A in France.[1]

Men's leagues structureEdit

The table below shows the current structure, although FIBA Europe does not recognize the EuroCup as second-tier level,[2] but it's commonly known as on the same par as the Basketball Champions League.[3] Also, FIBA Europe only recognize the Adriatic League and VTB League as sanctioned regional leagues.[4]

Level League Operator Teams First season
I EuroLeague Euroleague Basketball 18 1958[a]
II EuroCup Euroleague Basketball 24 2002
Basketball Champions League FIBA Europe 32 2016
III FIBA Europe Cup FIBA Europe 32 2015
  1. ^ The EuroLeague was taken over by Euroleague Basketball in 2001.
Unofficial Level
(Regional leagues)
League First season Operator Teams Countries
(Top-tier Regional-leagues)
Adriatic League (ABA) 2001 Adriatic Basketball Association 14   Bosnia and Herzegovina,   Croatia,   Montenegro,   North Macedonia,   Serbia &   Slovenia
VTB United League (VTB) 2008 Russian Basketball Federation 13   Belarus,   Estonia,   Kazakhstan,  Poland &   Russia
(Multi-nation leagues)
Balkan International Basketball League (BIBL)
(Balkan League)
2008 Balkan International Basketball 14   Albania,   Bulgaria,   Romania,   Montenegro,   North Macedonia,   Israel
ABA League 2 (ABA2) 2017 Adriatic Basketball Association 14   Bosnia and Herzegovina,   Croatia,   Montenegro,   North Macedonia,   Serbia &   Slovenia
Alpe Adria Cup 2015 Participating Basketball Federations 14   Austria,   Croatia,   Czech Republic,   Hungary,   Poland,   Slovakia &   Slovenia
(Two-nation leagues)
Latvian-Estonian Basketball League 2018 Participating Basketball Federations 13   Estonia &   Latvia
Liga Unike 2020 Participating Basketball Federations 8   Albania &   Kosovo
BNXT League 2021 Participating Basketball Federations 22   Belgium &   Netherlands
Czecho-Slovak Basketball Cup 2021 Participating Basketball Federations 12   Czech Republic &   Slovakia

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "World's best basketball leagues outside of the NBA". 7 December 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Munich Regional Court rules against FIBA and FIBA Europe sanctions".
  3. ^ "The EuroCup and Basketball Champions League economics".
  4. ^ "PR N°61 - European Leagues and FIBA announce important joint conclusions on professional basketball".

External linksEdit