City, University of London welcomed the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers who are preparing for their NBA London Global Game at the O2 Arena on Thursday 11th January.

By Matthew Little (Communications Officer), Published (Updated )

The two Eastern Conference rivals have spent the week training at CitySport, practicing in the basketball hall and talking with some City students.

The game marked the National Basketball Association’s eighth instalment of their visit to London. The Celtics, who are currently top of the league have edged their last two games against the 76ers. Yet their opponents, who are ninth, have reasons to be positive with star player, Joel Embiid returning to form this season after suffering from a series of injuries.

During their visit to London, CitySport also played host to local children and Premier League football team, Crystal Palace, in a Jr. NBA Clinic where children from the Jr. NBA Basketball England Leagues got to train and mingle with the NBA basketball and football players.

Guerschon Yabusele, power forward for the Boston Celtics, with Vlad Kolesnik, (BSc Finance), Martina Capelli (BSc Business Studies) and Aastha Mehta (LLB Law)
Guerschon Yabusele, power forward for the Boston Celtics, with Vlad Kolesnik, (BSc Finance), Martina Capelli (BSc Business Studies) and Aastha Mehta (LLB Law)

Guerschon Yabusele, power forward for the Boston Celtics, said: “I like London, I was here for a bit when I was young and I have some family over here too. It is only an hour on the train from my home in Paris – it is an excellent city.

“The gym here is really good and it was great for us to get some practice at a venue like this before the game on Thursday. I have never been to the O2 arena and I am really excited as the game is sold out.”5

Celtics player dunking
Celtics player dunking

Trevor Booker, power forward for the 76ers, said: “It is my first time in London, but I have always wanted to have the accent – so hopefully I can pick it up while I am here!

“I am looking forward to the game on Thursday, I went to Mexico last year, but I did not get to participate because I was traded, so hopefully I will not be traded this time and get to play abroad!

“The facilities here are very nice, I got to work with some local kids in the junior NBA clinic and that was really cool.”

Three members of the City female and male basketball teams were also in attendance, watching the Celtics train and talking to some of the players.

It was so exciting, I have never been this close to NBA basketball players before, even last year when I was actually in Boston. It is such a nice gym, and it was a dream come true watching them train where we train and do the drills that we do for our games.

– Vlad Kolesnik, (BSC Finance, third year) and captain of the City men’s basketball team
Celtics players training
Celtics players training

It was a really cool experience to watch the Celtics, especially as they are not in London very often, so to see them up close was really nice.

It was amazing being so close to Kyrie Irving, it is much better seeing him in real life than watching on television!

I have exams this month, but it was a really nice break to get away from my laptop screen to see something like this. Even if it is not something amazing like watching NBA players, you should always remember to take a break from revision.

– Aastha Mehta (LLB Law, first year) and co-captain of the City female basketball team

CitySport is the largest student sports facility in central London. This marks the second year that it has hosted the NBA teams training sessions, and it was chosen due to the high-specification of the Sports England standard sports hall.