Bilbao has been awarded hosting rights to the 2022 Basketball Champions League (BCL) Final 4, with the news marking the first time the event will be held at the arena of a non-participating team.

The season-ending tournament will be staged from May 6-8 at the 10,000-seat Bilbao Arena, regular home court of Surne Bilbao Basket.

The four teams that qualify out of the 2021-22 season quarter-finals will participate in the pinnacle event of the BCL’s sixth campaign, which will be played in a single-game knock-out format.

The Spanish city’s staging will also see the BCL’s showpiece event return to its traditional format after Final 8 tournaments concluded its past two seasons during COVID-19. The 2020-21 season concluded in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, while the 2019-20 Final 8 was held in Athens, Greece.

Patrick Comninos, CEO of the Basketball Champions League, said: “We are grateful to the city of Bilbao, the Spanish local and regional authorities, the Spanish Basketball Federation and the ACB (Spanish Basketball League) for their commitment to help us organise this event in the best and safest way possible for all stakeholders, especially the players and the accompanying members of all qualified teams.

“We have acknowledged the fervour of the city to organise this historical event and we look forward to working together to deliver a fantastic season-ending tournament.

“Despite the challenging situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to award this Final 4 to an environment that has proven experience in organising top-level basketball events. This will guarantee a unique weekend of basketball for fans across Europe.”

The BCL said the Final 4 will be organised in-line with the International Basketball Federation’s (FIBA’s) Return to Play Protocol and the relevant regulations applicable by the Spanish authorities. A decision concerning the presence of fans in the arena will be taken at a later stage.

Mayor of Bilbao, Juan Mari Aburto, added: “Once again, Bilbao proves to be an attractive city for major international sporting events.

“Bilbao will host this great event of basketball at the Bilbao Arena and I hope that both fans and all those who visit us can enjoy a fantastic event, and also take advantage to know and discover our city, our gastronomy, our shops and our traditions.”

Image: Aitor Ortiz/Basketball Champions League