Basketball: Kings are killed off by Tigers

MICK BETT, the Thames Valley coach, was impressed by the way his players removed the champions Guildford Kings from the First Division title race on Saturday night, but unimpressed by talk that the Tigers will go on to lift the Carlsberg League championship, writes Duncan Hooper.

Title speculation has been prompted by 13 wins from 14 games, but Bett is unmoved: 'It's nonsense. We're not half-way through the season yet. We've not had any injuries, we've not hit a bad patch. Anything can happen.'

But he did concede that Guildford, who have won the title in each of the past three seasons, are barely in the frame after five defeats. 'One more defeat should make it certain that they can't keep the title,' he said after the Tigers mauled the Kings 81-72 at the Guildford sports centre.

Bett acknowledged that his team would have been stretched a little more by a fully fit Alton Byrd. The Kings' playmaker was rendered powerless as Nigel Lloyd, of Barbados, Michael Hayles, Mike Obaseki and the American Lester James produced a 15-2 surge early in the second half which carried the Tigers to a 61-46 lead.

Worthing Bears, four points behind the Tigers with two games in hand, cruised past Hemel Hempstead Royals 100-74. London Towers stay third, a further two points behind, after beating Manchester Giants 92-78, out-scoring them 14-4 in the first five minutes of the second half.

The previously all-English Cheshire Jets are learning what a difference an American makes. Tyrone Thomas, who arrived from the US last week, scored 24 points to lead them to their first win of the season, 89-68 against Sunderland.

Results, Sport in Short, page 27