Basketball: Betts close to NBA debut

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND'S Andy Betts could make his debut in the NBA this season with the Charlotte Hornets, the club that drafted him in the second round of the league draft in 1998.

The 7ft 1in centre, who was picked 52nd overall following his last season of college basketball at Long Beach State, made only a few appearances in Italy's Serie A last season as a rookie with Teamsystem Bologna.

He did, however, show flashes of dominance for England this summer with the national team on their trips to Ireland, Hungary and Poland and has followed that up with solid performances in the Hornets' training camp this month.

"He's improved dramatically and he's playing a lot better," said Charlotte's general manager, Bob Bass. "The big question is: is it enough? Do we want to make him one of the 12 players on our roster for next season? We have to have some conversations and make a decision."

London Towers' new coach, Ron Abegglen, has signed another of last season's Budweiser League line-up as he prepares to take the club into European competition on two fronts at the start of the season.

Abegglen has added the signature of Malcolm Leak to those of the returning Martin Henlan and Ray Schultz, with the club facing an early test in the Sainsbury's Classic at Wembley on 4 to 5 September.

Towers then face 10 group games in the Saporta Cup, formerly the European Cup, after being upgraded to that competition from the Korac Cup by the International Federation.

Towers' first European game is on 21 September just three days after the league season begins, while London Leopards are in action in the Korac three days before the season.

n The entire basketball court on which Michael Jordan made the final shot of his career will be auctioned off by Michael Barnes, the man who negotiated the $3m (pounds 1.8m) sale of Mark McGwire's 70th home-run ball.

The floor is the one the Utah Jazz used from 1996 to 1999 and on which Jordan made the jumper with 5.2sec left in the sixth game of the 1998 NBA finals. That beat Utah and gave Chicago its sixth NBA title in seven years.