SOUTHSIDE Rockets have been accepted into one of Europe’s top basketball leagues for the start of next season.

The Rockets will travel around the continent, if the coronavirus pandemic allows.

And coach Josh Prentice feels it is a huge opportunity for his young side.

“We’re in the EYBL next season and it’s the top level of junior basketball competition available within Europe,” said Prentice.

“It includes some of the continent’s most prestigious clubs and only four other clubs in Great Britain currently participate.

“We put in an application to the league this off season explaining the details of our new under 19 basketball academy, the calibre of players we have available for selection and administrative structure to be able to support the trips.

“After a period of waiting we recently got the nod that we’ve been accepted.”

Rockets will now be taking on teams from France, Spain, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Turkey and Serbia next season.

And Prentice feels it will be a huge boost for his team.

“Our selection for the league is an incredible opportunity for the academy, the wider club and our area in general as we are the only team in Essex in the competition,” said Prentice.

“The league will provide extremely challenging games at the next level, which will act as a developmental catalyst for both our players and coaching staff.

“The EYBL is also fantastic exposure for players that are aiming to be awarded scholarships at top UK and US universities when they graduate from our academy.

“Player mixtapes against European competition are held in higher regard by recruiters than mixtapes against UK competition.

“The league will also provide a valuable cultural experience for our players in getting the opportunity to visit countries that they may not otherwise get the chance to see.”

And the players are already relishing the challenge after the club, who were previously known as the Southend Rockets, also opted to change their name.

“The whole club has been buzzing since we got the news,” said Prentice.

“It’s a great opportunity for the here and now, but equally importantly this enables us to add long-term value to our player development pathway and provide young hoopers within our club, area and beyond with an opportunity to compete against the very best.

“Our club has also been subject to a serious makeover this off-season.

“We used the spare time thrust upon us by society’s circumstances to revamp and rebuild various areas of the club to provide a better experience for our players.

“We have changed our name to ‘Southside Rockets’ to reflect our recent expansion and player demand from outside of Southend.

“We will be competing in the National League Premier Divisions at under 18, 16 and 14 age-groups.”