Basketball: Derby's Firte uses passport to riches

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The Independent Online
DERBY STORM'S American Chris Firte was given a British passport this week and yesterday cashed in on his new European Union status for a more lucrative contract with the German club Brandt Hagen.

The 29-year-old 6ft 9in Firte, from West Lafayette, Indiana, has played for four British Basketball League clubs over the past seven years but had a "gentlemen's agreement" with the Derby coach, Martin Ford, that he be allowed to leave if he found better terms elsewhere.

Ford, who was yesterday trying to sign Ray Shultz from London Towers, said: "Chris was very fair about how much he expected to be paid when he joined, but we agreed to release him if he had a better offer."

Firte's British passport is worth far more on the continent than on the salary-capped BBL, as it allows him to bypass restrictions on foreign players.

Derby are also the target for a transfer bid from the Korean club Samsung Thunder, who are trying to prize away American Kip Stone with the promise of pounds 10,000 plus another American, G J Hunter. Ford said: "Kip says he's very happy here and we want to keep him."

The England international Kojo Bonsu has disappointed Newcastle Eagles and Sheffield Sharks by signing for the Swedish club Magic M7.

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