The Preliminary rounds of IWBF Europe’s European club competition took place over two days, Friday 9th and Saturday 10th March, across venues in Europe. Split across three leagues, 34 teams from 15 countries competed for a place in one of the three Finals that will take place at the end of April.
In Group A of EuroLeague 1, only four teams competed as the Turkish team Yalova Ortopedikler Spor Kulübü were unable to play because of visa issues. The Russian hosts BKIS “Nevskiy Alyans” and Austrian team Interwetten-Coloplast Sitting Bulls, were all square at the top of the table with two wins apiece, but it was the Sitting Bulls’ 62-34 win over BKIS Nevskiy Alyans that proved vital in the head-to-head and ensured they topped the group. The Austrian team progress to the EuroLeague 1 Finals (formerly the Andre Vergauwen Cup) in Bilbao, Spain, whilst the Russian’s will make their way to Sheffield, UK, to play in the EuroLeague 2 Finals (formerly the Willi-Brinkmann Cup). Italy’s SSD Santa Lucia beat Beit-Halochem Haifa from Israel, 53-44, which was enough to see them finish third and go through to the EuroLeague 3 Finals (Challenge Cup) in Badajoz, Spain.
It was the Turkish team Kardemir Karabükspor Kulübü who swept through Group B of the EuroLeague 1 preliminary round, winning all four of their games and sailing into the EuroLeague 1 Finals. There was a battle for second and third spot between Spain’s BSR ACE Gran Canaria and Germany’s Rhine River Rhinos Wiesbaden, but it was Gran Canaria who took the win between the two, 66-48, to claim second spot and a trip to Sheffield. Rhine River Rhinos consolation is a place in the EuroLeague 3 Finals.
It was another close affair in Group A of the preliminary round of Euro League 2, as all the games went right down to the wire. Only Friends, from The Netherlands, topped the group, with three wins and only one loss, and head to the EuroLeague 2 Finals, followed by a three-way tie for second place, but the French team, Leopards de Guyenne Bordeaux, took the second spot on points difference and head to Badajoz, Spain for the EuroLeague 3 Finals.
Germany’s Koln 99ers stormed through Group B of the EuroLeague 2 preliminary round and will be only team to have qualified undefeated heading into the EuroLeague 2 Finals in Sheffield. Switzerland’s Les Aigles des Meyrin finished second, defeating hosts Meylan Grenoble Handibasket in the final game of the weekend to ensure their place at the EuroLeague 3 Finals.
In the EuroLeague 3 preliminary rounds, it was do or die for all teams with only the top placed team progressing through to the EuroLeague 3 Finals in Badajoz, Spain. Bosnia’s KKI VRBAS Banja Luka, Turkey’s Izmir BB Genclik VE S.K. and Italy’s ASD S. Stefano Sport all proved the strongest to win all of their games and finish top of their respective pools.
More information and to find out which clubs have made the Euro League Finals: