Basketball: Bears show title appetite

THE SIGHT of Alan Cunningham, their player-coach, collecting a split lip from Trevor Gordon's elbow inspired Worthing Bears to a second-half recovery on Saturday night to defeat Guildford Kings 100-91 in front of a capacity crowd at Worthing Sports Centre.

Cunningham, who needed four stitches and was slightly concussed, was put out of the game by Gordon's action, which incensed the crowd but was apparently unseen by either official.

'I thought he was my friend,' Cunningham said. The 6ft 8in Worthing player-coach, who was team-mates with the 6ft 9in Gordon in the Guildford side last season, admitted that 'basketball's a tough game,' but he was clearly upset by the incident. Yet the fact that his team managed to achieve victory without him suggests that they have the character necessary to claim a major prize.

Worthing's win, after they trailed by a sizeable nine-point deficit - 48-37 - at the interval, strengthened their lead in the Carlsberg League as they capitalised on Thames Valley's defeat at Derby last week, which cost the Tigers top place in the First Division.

If Guildford hoped that Tigers' defeat had opened the door to a successful defence of their title, the Bears firmly slammed it in their faces. Colin Irish was also with Guildford last season and he led a determined Worthing effort with 39 points.

Last night, Worthing won

86-73 at third-placed London Towers, opening a decisive 71-59 lead with a 12-0 spurt after Cunningham came off the Bears' bench.

CARLSBERG LEAGUE Men: First Division (Saturday): Birmingham Bullets 103 Cheshire Jets 84; Thames Valley Tigers 107 Leicester Riders 88; Worthing Bears 100 Guildford Kings 91; Oldham Celtics 93 Manchester Giants 88; Hemel Hempstead Royals 69 London Towers 105. (Yesterday) Guildford 110 Manchester 102; Sunderland Saints 84 Derby Bucks 73; London 73 Worthing 86. Second Division: Bury Lobos 89 Barnsley Generals 78; Coventry Flyers 68 Cardiff 70; Plymouth Raiders 103 Lewisham Lightning 97; Solent Stars 74 Ware Rebels 86. Women: First Division: Chesham Ladies 64 Nottingham Wildcats 76; Sheffield Hatters 73 Cheshire Ladies 57. Second Division: Camberley Golden Eagle 41 Brixton Lady Topcats 62.

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