London Towers

London Towers were a professional basketball team based in London, England. They enjoyed considerable success in the 1990s and early 2000s, collecting 3 titles in the British Basketball League (BBL) as well as regularly competing in European competitions such as the Euroleague and EuroCup. They contested a fierce rivalry with fellow London team Greater London Leopards for much of this spell. After several years of decline with financial difficulties and venue issues, owner Costi Zombanakis pulled the first team from the BBL in the summer of 2006, and although the club's second team continued in the regional English Basketball League, the London Towers brand folded in 2009.

London Towers
London Towers logo
LeagueBritish Basketball League
and EBL Division 3
Established1984
Folded2009
HistoryTower Hamlets
1984–1989
London Docklands
1989–1991
London Towers
1991–2009
LocationLondon, Greater London
Team coloursYellow, Black and White
OwnershipCosti Zombanakis

Franchise historyEdit

High risersEdit

Established as Tower Hamlets, in the borough of the same name, the London-based team entered NBL Division 2 in 1984. By 1989 they finished eleventh, out of the eleven teams in the league and were due to be relegated. However, the Carlsberg League Division 1 was suffering a membership crisis at the time and was about to be reduced to just seven teams. With the newly built Docklands Arena available as a possible venue not too far from the team's base, the Tower Hamlets franchise was admitted to country's top professional league as London's representatives, rebranded as London Docklands for the 1989-90 season.

On the move againEdit

The following season the Docklands team left the giant arena as they, in common with other basketball teams at the time, struggled with the cost of a big arena rent. They returned "home" to Tower Hamlets and the Newham Leisure Centre, although their first two seasons yielded just three League victories.

Towers riseEdit

It was 1991 when the franchise which came to sit astride British basketball finally gained its most well-known label. Renamed London Towers, but still playing at Newham the club's fortunes turned around in the 1991-92 season, as they finished fourth, and a move to the Sobell Sports Centre in Islington saw them finish third in 1993.

The Wembley DaysEdit

In 1994 the Towers made the short move across North London to the prestigious Wembley Arena complex, splitting home games between the Arena itself and the adjacent Exhibition halls. It was here that that they enjoyed their best seasons, winning multiple titles including the Budweiser League Championship, League Playoffs and 7-up trophy.

The 1996-97 season also saw the Towers make their European debut appearance, competing in the newly named EuroCup. After qualifying from the group stage with a 4–6 record, they exited the competition in the first knockout round losing to Avtodor Saratov of Russia by five points over two legs. The following season also saw them take part in the Eurocup, however this time they finished bottom of their group with a 1–9 record.

Heading SouthEdit

With their Wembley venue proving expensive and presenting problems for European competitions, in the summer of 1998 Towers "merged" with fellow BBL team Crystal Palace. The 1998–1999 season saw games split between Wembley and Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, with the team moving full time to Crystal Palace for the following season.

Towers continued to be one of the British Basketball League's top teams, winning Southern Conference titles and the Uniball Trophy. They also regularly competed in European competitions such as the Saporta Cup, NEBL (Northern European Basketball League), and even the prestigious Euroleague for two seasons, coached by NBA Championship winning coach Nick Nurse in one of these years.

The EndEdit

Despite working on plans to build their own arena for a number of years, linking with their community and development work, in 2006 the London Towers first team pulled out of BBL, for a "one year break". In common with at least two other teams who followed this path at around the same time, they were never to return. The recently started second team, London Towers II, continued to fly the flag for a few seasons, competing in the English Basketball League Division 3 and operating the club's youth and development teams, before also folding.

Head coachesEdit

Assistant Coaches - Tony Garbelotto, Andre Alleyne, Graham Wilson, Alex Fuhrmann, Julian Martinez, Joe Lofthouse.

Season-by-season recordsEdit

Seasons 1984-1991
Season Division Tier Regular Season Post-Season Cup Trophy Head Coach
Finish Played Wins Losses Points Win %
Tower Hamlets
1984–85 NBL 2 II
1985–86 NBL 2 II
1986–87 NBL 2 II
1987–88 NBL 1 II
1988–89 NBL 1 II
London Docklands
1989–90 BBL I 8th 28 2 26 4 0.071 Did Not Qualify Last 16 Pool Stage
1990–91 BBL I 9th 24 1 23 2 0.041 Did Not Qualify Last 16 Pool Stage
Season Division Tier Regular Season Post-Season Cup Trophy Head Coach
Finish Played Wins Losses Points Win %
London Towers
1991–92 BBL I 4th 30 21 9 42 0.700 Semi Finals Last 16 Semi Finals
1992–93 BBL I 3rd 33 25 8 50 0.757 Semi Finals Last 16 Pool Stage
1993–94 BBL I 5th 36 21 15 42 0.583 Quarter Finals Last 16 Pool Stage Mark Dunning
1994–95 BBL I 3rd 36 28 8 56 0.777 Semi Finals Quarter Finals Pool Stage
1995–96 BBL I 1st 36 32 4 64 0.889 Runners Up, losing to Birmingham Winners, beating Sheffield Winners, beating Worthing Kevin Cadle
1996–97 BBL I 2nd 36 26 10 52 0.722 Winners, beating Leopards Semi Finals Winners, beating Chester Kevin Cadle
1997–98 BBL I 6th 36 23 13 46 0.638 Semi Finals Semi Finals Runners Up, losing to Sheffield Kevin Cadle
1998–99 BBL I 3rd 36 24 12 48 0.667 Winners, beating Thames Valley Last 16 Quarter Finals Lino Frattin
1999–00 BBL S I 1st 34 23 11 46 0.676 Semi Finals Quarter Finals Winners, beating Manchester Ron Abegglen
2000–01 BBL S I 1st 34 27 7 54 0.794 Semi Finals Semi Finals Competed in Euroleague Nick Nurse
2001–02 BBL S I 1st 32 21 11 42 0.656 Semi Finals Last 16 Semi Finals Lino Frattin
David Lindstrom
2002–03 BBL I 7th 40 19 21 38 0.475 Quarter Finals Semi Finals Runners Up, losing to Chester David Lindstrom
2003–04 BBL I 3rd 36 23 13 46 0.638 Semi Finals Semi Finals Semi Finals Robbie Peers
2004–05 BBL I 3rd 40 29 11 58 0.725 Quarter Finals 1st Round Semi Finals Robbie Peers
2005–06 BBL I 4th 40 22 18 44 0.550 Quarter Finals Runners Up, losing to Newcastle Pool Stage Robbie Peers

Home arenasEdit

London Arena (1989–1991)
Newham Leisure Centre (1991–1992)
Sobell Sports Centre (1992–1994)
Wembley Arena (1994–1999) - split games between Crystal Palace from 1998.
Crystal Palace Sports Centre (1998–2007) - split games between Wembley Arena until 1999.
Harris Sports Centre [1] (2007–2009)

TrophiesEdit

  • 1995/96 League Champions, National Cup Winners, League Trophy Winners
  • 1996/97 Championship Winners, League Trophy Winners
  • 1998/99 Tournament of Champions Winners, Championship Winners
  • 1999/00 Southern Conference Champions, League Trophy Winners
  • 2000/01 Tournament of Champions Winners, Southern Conference Champions

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit