It could have been a hindrance. Instead, Brighton Bears' ULEB Cup adventure will go down as a key factor in them winning the league.

Playing abroad toughened Bears up for domestic action. Even the snow flurries in Sheffield did not seem so bad compared to Poland.

Coach Nick Nurse said: "One of the key games for us was probably the first European game against Split.

"We went into that not really playing that well. Granted Split weren't that great but they were talented and it gave us a step forward in belief.

"There were times coming back home when we were scary. Man, did we think we were good? We were going to really guard you, we were rebounding and we took our execution to another level.

"We had a little dip recently but now it seems we're back again. That isn't too much of a dip over 50 games."

Bears aim to keep the momentum going at Birmingham on Saturday (7.30pm) and in games with London Towers on Sunday (5pm) and Sheffield next Wednesday (7pm), both at the Brighton Centre.

Nurse told fans: "Come see the reigning champs. We'll celebrate again."

They will be depleted champs. The coach's three-game ban keeps him out of both weekend matches while Tom Frederick misses out with a knee injury. Rico Alderson is banned for the Towers game.