Basketball: Eagles on rise with Webber

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The Independent Online
NEWCASTLE EAGLES, fresh from last weekend's victory at the defending Budweiser League champions, Greater London Leopards, have taken their line-up to new heights by capturing the 6ft 9in British-Canadian forward Chris Webber.

The Eagles already boast the tallest squad in the league after another recent signing, Ian Whyte who stands 7ft 1in, joined 6ft 9in Chris Fite and 6ft 10in Scott Wilkie, who is recovering from a broken arm. Webber arrives today but is unlikely to make his debut in tonight's game at Leicester City Riders, when the former England international Karl Brown makes his debut for the home side.

"If Chris arrives in time, fine, but we won't use him," Craig Lynch, the Eagles coach, said. "I am looking towards next weekend for his debut when we have a double header in the league [on Saturday at Sheffield Sharks] and cup [against Milton Keynes on Friday]."

Lynch expects Carl Miller, whose vital statistics are 6ft 7in and 17 stone, and Corey Jackson to have recovered from injury. Miller missed the win at Leopards when Whyte dominated the boards with 21 points and 15 rebounds.

Chester Jets, who have lost nine out of 10 games, hope to be at full strength for the first time this season, with new American Prentice McGruder and British-born Shaun Hartley making their debut away to fellow strugglers Milton Keynes tomorrow. Chester's rookie coach, Robbie Peers, has seen his debut season wrecked by injuries and departures: Andrew Mavis broke his foot, then replacement Shawn Swords stayed just one week and, last week, Titus Channer returned to Canada.

Peers, who took over from Mike Burton in the summer, has been desperate to find more replacements: "We have a tremendous amount of work to do to gel this team, but I'm relieved to have some experience in depth on our bench now."

Another rookie coach, Milton Keynes' Andre Alleyne, has secured the signature of American Tony Windless, the former London Towers and Derby Storm player, after releasing the Angolan David Dias and the American Eric Butler.

Manchester Giants went top of the league with Wednesday's overtime win at Thames Valley Tigers and should consolidate their position against Worthing Bears tomorrow at home, when Worthing's new coach, Sean Loucks, makes his debut.