It is a curiosity of the sport of basketball that international fixtures tend to play second fiddle to the league competitions, that is not to say the country versus country fixtures are dour affairs when they do come around. Far from it, the young guys who pull on the red shirt of England do so with pride and passion, the same can be said of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and whichever country they find themselves up against. In the European rankings, Lithuania are the team to beat with a normally strong showing also from The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Turkey, although, as any sports fan will tell you, it is all about who turns up on the day. It has never been truer that "anyone can beat anyone else" (apart from the Harlem Globetrotters, but, as we all know; that is not basketball at its purest.)
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When major championships do come around, watching some of the pool games is an efficient way of getting to see your heroes out on court, compared with the extremely expensive tickets (plus flights) to go and watch the blue riband of basketball at the Olympic Games. Both men's and women's senior and junior teams compete on the roster with some hot young prospects to look out for. In the England ladies set up, the delightfully named Hannah Jump might be one to watch out for although Ashana Hinds tends to take the headlines with her extraordinary percentages from the free throw line. It is the focus of UK teams to compete mainly in the junior ranks, until a very strong team emerges which would be fit to stand toe to toe with the mighty North Americans. In other disciplines, EuroBasket is the main even, tickets for which become available in the lead up to the event, once seedings and schedule have been finalised.
Watch all the action along with a partisan crowd
Even in America, the home of basketball, venues are relatively small when compared to football or athletics venues, this means that the atmosphere of the crowd can affect what happens on court. Even darts plays to bigger crowds than basketball in the UK, which says a lot about the national identity. Even so, many of our young stars have come through the US collegiate system where only the very best will succeed. Just to know that many domestic players have triumphed in such a difficult system should tell you all you need to know about the quality of the national set up and the ambitions that these young men and women have going forward.