Basketball: Giants' record crowd

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The Independent Online
Manchester Giants drew a record 12,431 crowd to their new home at the Nynex Arena for Saturday night's Budweiser League fixture, but their injury and strife-torn team drew a blank on court with a 107-88 defeat by London Leopards, writes Duncan Hooper.

The game was a staggering leap in the record attendance for an English game. The crowd almost doubled the previous record, set at 6,500 for last season's play-off quarter-final at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena between the Bullets and Sheffield Sharks. Even Wembley play-off finals rarely attract more than 8,000 fans.

The League chief executive, Mike Smith, said: "This is a major step forward for basketball and a tribute to the efforts of the Giants, their general manager Rick Taylor, and the arena staff." The Nynex is Europe's largest indoor stadium, with a capacity of 19,500 for concerts and 16,500 for sporting events.

The Giants' coach, Mike Hanks, said: "I just wish we could have given the crowd better entertainment by winning."

The club's dispute with 6ft 9in Trevor Gordon continues to keep him out of the team, while 6ft 11in Danny Craven may not play again this year due to tendinitis. Hanks said: "Without Trevor and Danny we've gone from being a big experienced team to a small young team."

Leopards made them pay, hitting 35 out of 39 free throws as Giants tried to stop them with desperate fouls. Leopards' coach, Billy Mims, said: "It was great to be part of such an exciting night, but I'd have been as happy beating them in front of two people."

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