North European Basketball League
The North European Basketball League, or Northern European Basketball League (NEBL), was a short-lived regional professional basketball league. It was founded in 1998, by Šarūnas Marčiulionis and Dmitry Buriak. The league was the first commercial project of a regional league in Europe, and initially intended for participation of the best basketball teams from five countries - Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, and Finland.
In 1999, the first North European Basketball League competition took place, involving eight teams, from the aforementioned countries. Eventually, the tournament started to lose its regional characteristics, as it began involving more clubs from Central (Poland, Czech Republic), Western (Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, UK), and Eastern (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus) Europe; then, from Southern Europe (Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia), and even from Israel and Turkey. There were 31 teams, from 19 countries (from Israel to UK), participating in the 2001–02 season's tournament. The Final Four of the NEBL, was always played in Vilnius, Lithuania.
By 2002, top clubs like CSKA Moscow, Žalgiris, and Maccabi, had lost their interest in the competition, in favor of the newly organized, and much more commercially attractive, EuroLeague. In the season 2002–03 season, a body (group stage) of the tournament wasn't held - the four best teams of the Northern Conference FIBA Champions Cup played for the last NEBL title in a Final Four.
The NEBL would later be transformed (since 2004) into Baltic Basketball League (BBL), with basketball teams from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia participating in it.
|Season||Winner||Final score||Finalist||Total teams||Total countries|
|1999 (Promo)||Žalgiris Kaunas||83–81||ASK/Brocēni/LMT Riga||8||5|
|2000||CSKA Moscow||95–77||Lietuvos rytas Vilnius||14||9|
|2000–01||Ural Great Perm||88–81||Žalgiris Kaunas||16||12|
|2001–02||Lietuvos rytas Vilnius||79–74||Ural Great Perm||31||19|
|2002–03||UNICS Kazan||93–90||Lietuvos rytas Vilnius||4||3|
- NEBL slogan: Break the ice! 20 April 2000 The Baltic Times.