Basketball: Bullets face a Simms setback

BIRMINGHAM BULLETS coach Mike Finger hopes hand injuries to Tony Simms and Fabulous Flournoy will not stop them facing Budweiser League runners-up Manchester Giants in tonight's decisive third game of their play-off quarter-final series at the MEN arena.

Simms, an outstanding three-point shooter, injured his thumb in Birmingham's 82-74 win in the first game in the series, but missed Thursday's 78-71 defeat against Giants in Manchester. Flournoy dislocated the little finger of his right hand just before half-time on Thursday but returned late in the game.

"Fab is very likely to play," Finger said. "There is no break and although he has some pain and swelling, it's nothing that should stop him. Tony is less likely to play. There is a chance we could immobilise his thumb to prevent further injury, but it really is unlikely.

"He is an out and out scoring threat for us and we will miss him, but I have to give a lot of credit for the way Emiko Etete stepped up on Thursday."

Etete led Bullets' scorers with 20 points and when they led by 10 in the second half the League's seventh-placed team were poised to end Manchester's bid to reach the finals at Wembley in two weeks' time. But a 16-4 run inspired by the former Bullet Tony Dorsey re-established Giants as favourites for tonight's game.

London Towers are also favourites for their home tie tonight against Newcastle Eagles, after squaring the series with Thursday's 91-76 victory.

n Dennis Rodman has been released by Los Angeles Lakers after only two months. The flamboyant star has missed several matches and training sessions without explanation.