September 27- The much-anticipated British Basketball League (BBL) 2013-2014 season is set to get underway tonight with changes in teams, sponsors, venues and broadcasting laying the foundations for one of the most exciting seasons to date.
This season will once again feature 12 teams but with one change, as the Birmingham Knights embark upon their first campaign in Britain's premier basketball league to give the Second City a presence in the league for the first time since the Birmingham Panthers folded in 2008.
Meanwhile, the Mersey Tigers, who finished rock bottom of last season's league after losing all 33 of their games, have dropped out of the league due to funding issues.
Tonight's opening fixtures will also see the London Lions compete at their new home on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the first time at the Copper Box Arena, where they will face the Manchester Giants in one of three games to get the season underway tonight.
With a series of new partners such as Haven Holidays, Sports Direct, Spalding and Service Graphics joining Molten on the roster, the commercial success of the BBL is testament to the growth of the sport in the UK.
And with a new partnership with Eurosport announced earlier this week and the launch of the BBL TV service, which will show 30 live games this season in full HD, the league will be easier for fans to keep up to date with than ever before.
BBL chief operating officer Andy Webb said: "There has been great progress made with British basketball in the last 6 to 12 months in particular, and we are absolutely delighted with the feed through from the London Olympics."
"It is a crowded sports market out there, but we are finding partners and new fans who recognise we have a very unique product at the BBL, and they want to get on board.
"We anticipate further important announcements in the next few weeks.
"Our major events are also already tracking well up on last season, and we are getting new interest from all quarters.
"And I have no doubt the BBL clubs will be serving up a huge number of highly competitive and high class games, when the new season tips off this weekend."
The regular season fixtures will reach a climax with the a showpiece 2013-2014 season finale at Wembley Arena, when the BBL Play-off Final is expected to exceed last year's attendance of 8,500.
The Leicester Riders and Newcastle Eagles will both be looking to resume their rivalry at the pinnacle of British basketball this season following two consecutive seasons in which they have contested the play-off final.
The Eagles came out on top in 2012, but it was the Riders who inflicted two defeats on their rivals to complete the league and cup double earlier this year.
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