Basketball: Bullets aim to take best shot

THE BIRMINGHAM BULLETS coach, Mike Finger, hopes he can force his close friend Nick Nurse out of contention for the Budweiser Championship play-offs, without the Manchester Giants' coach even sitting on the bench for their play-off quarter-final series.

Nurse served the first of a two-game ban on Sunday when the Bullets, who finished only seventh in the League, beat the runners-up 82-74 in the opening clash of their best-of-three series.

And Nurse can only watch again from the crowd tonight at Manchester's MEN Arena when Bullets, the defending champions, attempt to return to Wembley in two weeks time. Finger said: "I still think we are huge underdogs, but we are definitely capable of winning now."

The victory was Birmingham's first in five attempts against Manchester this season and Finger added: "I hope it doesn't go to the third game, because with Nick out again tonight I think this will be our best opportunity."

Newcastle Eagles take a 1-0 series lead to Crystal Palace to play fourth-placed London Towers, having beaten them in three League games this season.

The English Basketball Association have upheld a six-month ban, with a further six months suspended, on Derby Storm's Maurice Robinson, who failed to supply a complete urine sample at a doping control after the League Trophy final in March.