Basketball: Giants smooth path past Swedes

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THE Budweiser League leaders, Manchester Giants, transferred their high-scoring domestic form to the international stage at Crystal Palace last night, when they defeated Solna, of Stockholm, in the quarter-finals of the World Invitation Club Basketball tournament.

Their opponents in tomorrow's semi-final will be Worthing Bears, who outscored Basket Flyers Vienna 18-2 midway through the second half on their way to an 88-80 victory. In tonight's first semi-final Thames Valley Tigers play the Latvian champions Riga.

Giants punished Solna for an appalling start. The Swedes messed up their defensive assignments, leaving Chris Fite and Kevin St Kitts in the clear to score a three-pointer each.

Inside 90 seconds Solna's American Levertis Robinson had committed two fouls, and their coach, Jay Anderson, called a time-out: Manchester led 10-0.

The Manchester coach, Jeff Jones, maintained the pressure on his opponent as he quickly introduced his substitutes. Kurt Samuels and the 6ft 10in Danny Craven came off the bench to score with their first touch and Giants led 20-5 before Solna began to look like a team.

Robinson, at 6ft 6in, was vertically challenged by Craven and the 6ft 9in Trevor Gordon and the 6ft 11in Fite. But he stayed airborne long enough to scramble 12 first-half points as only Dale Turnquist challenged the Giants around their own basket.

When Manchester's American guard and chief orchestrator, Joe Hillman, took a breather on 10 points, the 5ft 4in Sean McKie entered the game with a steal and a three-pointer.

Manchester, the only team averaging more than 100 points per game in the Budweiser League, led 64-41 at half-time and Solna, already without their injured international, Oscar Lefwerth, lost all hope of a recovery when their most experienced international, Henrik Evers, was injured in the final play of the first half.

WORLD INVITATION CLUB TOURNAMENT (Crystal Palace) Quarter-finals: Manchester Giants 117 Solna (Swe) 83; Worthing Bears 88 Basket Flyers Vienna 80.

Doncaster Panthers, who are four from bottom of the Budweiser League and released two of their players before Christmas, are giving a trial to the 6ft 8in American Courtney Brown, who has been on tour with the Harlem Globetrotters.