Basketball: Finch fears travels may undermine Sharks' final bid

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The Independent Online
ANY HOPES that tomorrow's National Cup semi-finalists nurtured of being able to prepare for the biggest weekend of the season so far have been destroyed by an overcrowded fixture list which sees all of them also playing tonight.

Manchester and Edinburgh, who meet in the second of tomorrow's semi- finals at Sheffield Arena, face each other tonight in a Northern Conference Championship game.

Holders Sheffield Sharks, who enjoy home advantage for their semi-final with Milton Keynes tomorrow, are away to Thames Valley Tigers tonight while the Lions travel to Birmingham Bullets, also in the Championship.

Sheffield and Manchester are odds-on favourites to reach the final, but the Sharks coach, Chris Finch, is anxious his players focus first on tonight's game at the Tigers' cramped and intimidating arena. "I think it's going to be one of the toughest games so far and it's a long haul down there and back before a semi," he said.

The Manchester coach, Nick Nurse, hopes to gain some benefit from playing the same team twice in 24 hours. "We can prepare in the same way for both games, then make some adjustments if we need to." Nurse's biggest worry is that Giants have not had a competitive game since 19 November.

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