Spain is a country often associated with a number of sports, no more so than football thanks to the continued global success and popularity of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as the national team’s World and European Cup victories in recent years.
One sport that appears to fly under the radar of those from outwith the country is the game of basketball. This week we will take a closer look at the nation’s game and provide an insight into Spain’s second most popular sport.
Within Spain there are a number of competitive leagues run by the Spanish Basketball Federation, with a range of teams from across the country competing regularly for the chance of silverware. The nation’s top division, the Liga ACB, also currently known as Liga Endesa is widely regarded as one of the most competitive and highest quality national leagues across Europe.
Liga ACB is also one of the most well supported professional indoor sports leagues in the world, with an average attendance of 6,500 for league matches in the 2016/17 season, the ninth-highest of any domestic professional indoor sports league and the fourth-highest of any professional basketball league in the world.
The competition consists of 18 teams and follows the usual double round robin format, with each team playing one another both home and away during the course of the season from October to May each year.
Teams are ranked by total points, receiving one point for a win, and no points for a loss, with the eight highest-ranked clubs at the end of the season competing in a seeded playoff, with the winner’s crowned league champion. Sides who finish as one of the two lowest-placed teams are then relegated to the LEB Oro division and replaced by the top team in the second tier plus the winner of the playoff.
In addition to club level success, Spain’s national sides have also enjoyed success on the court themselves, with their last major title win in 2015 at the European championships. Currently, the men’s side are second in the FIBA World Rankings, bettered only by the USA.
FC Barcelona Lassa
FC Barcelona Lassa, part of the FC Barcelona multi sports club, was founded on 24 August 1926, and is the oldest member of the Liga ACB. The team plays its home games at Palau Blaugrana, located at the famous Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona. The arena, opened in 1971, also plays host to the club’s roller hockey, futsal, and handball sides.
The club competes domestically in the Liga ACB and is an ever present in the prestigious EuroLeague. Barca have won several accolades in its time, including seven of the last thirteen ACB championships, and in 2003, completed a Liga ACB, Copa del Rey (Spanish Cup) and EuroLeague triple crown.
FC Barcelona has played in a total of seven EuroLeague Finals, with the last one being their 2010 win. In 2017/18, they finished third in the domestic league and won the Copa Del Rey.
Real Madrid Baloncesto
Real Madrid Baloncesto is a Spanish professional basketball team that was founded in 1931, as a division of the Real Madrid C.F. multi sports club. Like Real Madrid’s football side, the basketball team has been the most successful club in both Spain and Europe.
Madrid have won a record 34 Liga ACB championships, including in both a 7-in-a-row and 10-in-a-row sequence. They have also won a record 27 Spanish Cup titles, 10 EuroLeague Championships, and 4 Saporta Cups.
The side play their games at WiZink Center, an indoor sporting arena located in Madrid, with a capacity is 15,000 people. The 2017/18 season was another year filled with success, with the team winning the domestic league and EuroLeague double and finished runners up in the Copa Del Rey.
Club Deportivo Saski-Baskonia
Baskonia are a side based in Vitoria-Gasteiz, in the North of Spain. Historically, Baskonia are another team who have experienced domestic success over the years, winning three ACB championships, six Spanish Cups and four Spanish Supercups in its time.
On a European level, Baskonia are one of the most recognisable teams with an ever presence since the 2000/01 season. Although Baskonia are yet to win a EuroLeague title, the club has been runners up on two occasions, in 2001 and 2005. In 2016, they returned the EuroLeague semi-finals for the first time in eight years but were defeated after overtime by Turkish side Fenerbahce.
Baskonia’s last major achievement came in the 2009/10 season, defeating FC Barcelona to win the Liga ACB title. In 2017/18, the team finished second in the Liga ACB, and got to the quarterfinal of the Copa Del Rey and EuroLeague.