Basketball: Kings' European hope

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The Independent Online
GUILDFORD KINGS, who are gradually losing their grip of the Carlsberg League title, hope to maintain a high international profile with a bid to stage next year's final qualifying tournament for the European Championships.

The venue would be the Guildford Spectrum, the 3,000-seat arena the club had hoped to occupy at the start of the season which is now nearing completion.

The costs will be high as the hosts must pay to accommodate all of the competing nations and 16 are eligible to enter. The Kings' co- owner, Barry Dow, said: 'We must budget for between pounds 150,000 and pounds 200,000 to stage the tournament and must put together a package to interest television and sponsors.'

That will be difficult. The tournament, to produce the last four qualifiers for the finals in Germany, is for the newly independent nations of Eastern Europe as well as those countries, including England, which missed qualification from the semi-final round groups that finished last month.

Europe's 12 most powerful and marketable nations have already reached the finals and Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia and others from the former Eastern bloc are unlikely to attract great interest from television companies.

Guildford hope to secure a place in the NatWest Trophy final before Alton Byrd enters hospital on 22 December for an operation to repair a torn knee cartilage. The Kings are away to Derby in the first leg of their semi-final tomorrow. In the other semi-final Leicester lead Thames Valley 112-106 after their first leg.