The purpose of the present study is to initially investigate the association between the presence and number of foreign players and the competitive balance indices in the Greek National Basketball League; it subsequently determines whether the competitive balance mediates a positive effect on the performance of the Greek National Basketball Team, as evidenced by its rankings in the EuroBasket Championships. The study examines 47 seasons of the Greek National Basketball League, from 1965-66 to 2012-13. National legislation allowed only the participation of Greek players until the 1988-89 season. There are 22 seasons without the presence of foreign players and 25 with the presence of foreign players. Within the period under examination, 24 EuroBasket Championships have been organized. A set of specially designed indices of competitive balance, encompassing all levels of competitiveness were calculated for each year. Results showed that the performance of the Greek national basketball team in the EuroBasket Championships improved with the appearance of foreign players in the league, which also had an immediate positive effect on all aspects of competitiveness. This continued to improve with the influx of increasing numbers of foreign players. Analysis has shown that the effect of foreign players on the National Team performance is better explained through the mediating effect of competitiveness. In conclusion, the present study revealed that the presence and number of foreign players in the Greek National Basketball League led to an improvement of competitive balance, which, in turn, had a positive effect on the performance of the Greek National basketball team, as evidenced by its performance in the EuroBasket Championships.
Key words: Competitive balance, Greek National Basketball League, National team, foreign players.
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