Basketball: England's far Pavilions

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The Independent Online
Plymouth's fiercely partisan basketball supporters are relishing their rare chance to watch one of Europe's leading nations when Spain confront England at The Pavilions on Saturday night.

The European Championship semi-final is the first to be staged in Plymouth since England, under their coach, Vic Ambler, beat Norway 108-46 at the Mayflower Centre in 1973.

Ambler, a former lecturer at Exeter University, is still the only coach to have taken England to the European Championship finals, when they reached the last 12 for the tournament staged in the then Czechoslovakia in 1981.

The Pavilions, funded by Plymouth City Council, who are promoting Saturday's game, is also home for the National League club Plymouth Raiders.

The Raiders drew a capacity 1,500 spectators for their 99-77 National Cup defeat by London Towers, which gave them a taste of the gulf that would have to be bridged for the Budweiser League.

Keith Mollard, the Raiders' secretary, said: "We certainly have a good enough venue, but going up would involve a huge jump in administration and finance.

"People ask if we'll be happy staying in the National League. Well, when you're winning, you're happy."

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