Semi-professional and amateur teams make up the English Basketball League, the second tier of competitive basketball in Britain (behind the all-pro British Basketball League). While the BBL is all about generating support for professional basketball teams and players, the EBL is more about getting potential players enthusiastic about, and playing in, the sport.
As in the US, basketball is a winter sport, which makes it a fun outing in bad weather. Basketball is not as popular in the UK as it is in the US, but plenty of these teams have a loyal local following. If you are up for some fun time at a basketball game with the local fans, here are four venues you should consider visiting.
Derby (Derbyshire): Moorways Centre
The Derby Trailblazers are the 2012 EBL Men's Trophy winners. The Men's Division 1 team plays its home games at the Moorways Centre on Moor Lane in Allenton, Derby, in central England. At the corner of Osmaston Park Road and Moor Lane, the arena is also a popular sports complex for swimmers. Home games take place on weekends, usually at 7:30 p.m. Wear blue and white colors to show your support for the team.
Brentwood (Essex): Brentwood Centre
The Brentwood Centre is the home turf for the Essex Leopards, east of London. These Division 1 players have an enthusiastic following, many of whom remember the Leopards from when they played in London. Visit the venue at Pilgrims Hatch, Brentwood, and pay the modest admission fee of £6 for adults, £4 for kids and £16 for families. The team's home games take place on selected Sundays at 4 p.m.
Worthing (West Sussex): Worthing Leisure Centre
Located in the south England town of Worthing, West Sussex, the Worthing Leisure Centre is home to the Worthing Thunder. This team, a bit down on its luck at the moment, used to compete in the British Basketball League but just recently came back to Division 1 of the English Basketball League. The fans went with the team, and you can expect local supporters as well as traveling fans to make up the crowds at the arena. The team charges £7 for adults over 16 and £5 for youngsters under 16 years old. Sunday home games start at 5 p.m.; Saturday games are played at 7:30 p.m. There is a definite party atmosphere at the home games.
Reading (Berkshire): Rivermead Leisure Complex
Team colors for the Reading Rockets are red, white and black. On game days, you will find a veritable sea of these colors around the Rivermead Leisure Complex in Reading, Berkshire, just west of London. The arena has plenty of seating for fans, and ticket prices reflect the slightly larger following of this team. Adults pay £7 while kids pay £5. Sunday games tip off at 4 p.m.; Friday games start at 7:45 p.m. and Saturday games at 6:30 p.m.
by Sylvia Cochran