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Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Wednesday, 21 July 2010 17:53 UK

Belfast could get a British League basketball team


There are proposals to have a British League basketball team playing in Belfast

By Paul Gilmour
BBC Sport NI

Irish basketball will have a franchise in the British League within two years, according to Ireland's most capped player, Gareth Maguire.

The league currently has 13 teams, with the Glasgow Rocks the only one from outside England.

"We need this and are ready for it. We want to play in front of big crowds," said Maguire.

He was speaking at the launch of a Belfast tournament which will involve teams from Australia and the USA.

Australian side Melbourne Tigers and America's Pittsburgh University Panthers will play in the Belfast International Classic in August, along with teams representing England and Scotland.

"This tournament is a stepping stone towards the franchise," added Maguire.

"It is proof we can run events like these. Wouldn't it be a fantastic story to launch this team at the Olympics in September 2012? That is what our aim is."

USNI Sport managing director Mark Marais is involved in discussions.

"It will be similar to the Belfast Giants, but a basketball team playing in the British League. The plans are well down the line, it is going to happen.

"It is still two years away so nothing is signed on the dotted line. I have spent a lot of time in the States talking to potential investors and there is a lot of interest."

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