Coca-Cola Co. has expanded its global marketing partnership with the National Basketball Association.

The soft drinks giant said late last week that it would be a marketing partner of NBA Europe Live, presented by EA Sports, in the autumn of 2006 and 2007. The international event features four NBA teams conducting training camps and competing against European teams in seven cities.

Coca-Cola and Sprite will also conduct NBA-themed events, promotions and advertising in China, Canada and additional countries. Advertising will appear during international telecasts of NBA games and programming in 215 countries and 46 languages. In addition, the brands support NBA grassroots programs encouraging children to play basketball in China, Germany, Hong Kong, Mexico, the Philippines and Africa.

As the Official Soft Drink of the NBA, Sprite will continue to maintain a high level of promotional activity around NBA All-Star with its cornerstone continuing to be the Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk, Coke said. Sprite has been the title partner of the event since 2003.

"The Coca-Cola Company is an iconic global brand that has the capability and vision to jointly create unique programs to reach the common goal of maintaining and growing our relationship with teenagers around the world," said Heidi Ueberroth, NBA entertainment executive vice president.

"One of the things that makes our partnership with the NBA especially valuable is the great flexibility it offers in creating innovative marketing programs, particularly across emerging media," added John Hackett, senior vice president, marketing, Coca-Cola North America.

The two firms have been marketing partners since 1986.