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Basketball: Giants beset by shortage of players

MANCHESTER GIANTS' assault on the Budweiser League title race has been thrown into turmoil by the League, which has withheld player licences for the season beginning tomorrow and instead cleared only nine players for the game against Peugeot Bullets Birmingham at the Nynex Arena.

The League has refused to issue a licence even for tomorrow's game for John White, one of three close-season signings from the Greater London Leopards, although the high-scoring American was unlikely to play anyway following knee surgery last week.

The League's investigation concerns whether Giants have exceeded the salary cap. The League's chief executive, Mike Smith, said: "Only nine players have been issued with licences just for this first game, but there is no special significance in John White's license being withheld. Manchester's appeal will be heard next Thursday by an independent chairman."

Giants' general manager, Jay Goldberg, said: "There are a lot of rumours out there, and people need to be dealing in facts."

Greater London Leopards are lining up last season's leading scorer, Eric Burks, for a return to the team, after releasing the American Royce Olney because of a knee injury.