Basketball: Bullets for sale but future looks secure

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By Richard Taylor

THE BUDWEISER play-off champions, Peugeot Bullets Birmingham, are up for sale, but their owner, Harry Wrublewski, has allayed fears for the club's future by saying: "I won't leave this club high and dry. My gut feeling is that I will still be here at the end of next season."

The new Budwieser league campaign begins in six weeks. Bullets are having talks with Nottingham Panthers ice hockey club to buy 50 per cent of the franchise. But the situation has arisen only because Wrublewski wants to return to his home in Australia, where his mother is dying of cancer.

In seven years Wrublewski, with the Australian-based backing of his brother Mike, has built the Bullets into probably the most financially secure and best supported club in the country.

When word circulated that personal reasons might force Wrublewski to return home, Panthers quickly approached.

Wrublewski said: "We had 60 spectators at our first game, now we can draw up to 10,000. No one need have any fears for the future of this club. We have put the Bullets on a stronger footing than any team in the league. We are having talks with Panthers but there are no deals on the table and there is no contract."

Bullets' 6ft 11in international Chris Haslam has signed for the Greek Second Division Appollon Patron, leaving the club to search for an American big man to replace him.

n The Nigerian Julius Nwosu has tested positive for ephedrine at the World Basketball Championship, the sport's ruling body, Fiba, said yesterday. He has been suspended from the rest of the tournament and if the second test proves positive he faces a ban from national and club basketball for between one to three months.