Basketball: Kirk on fire as Bullets fly

MIKE FINGER spent the week building up Derby Storm's Moorways venue as the Budweiser League's most intimidating arena for visiting teams, then watched his Peugeot Bullets players dismantle it shot by shot on Saturday night.

The Birmingham club, league runners-up but now with their sights on regaining the Wembley play-off title they won two years ago, stunned Derby's crowd with a 111-79 win in the first game of the three-series quarter-final.

Derby led only once, when the impressive Dave Attewell tipped in on the first quarter buzzer for a 23-22 lead, bringing the crowd to their feet. In fact, their night was already over.

Birmingham's agile American Reggie Kirk hit four three-pointers in the next three minutes, plus a two by drifting wide to the right of Derby's static zone defence.

"Reggie ignited the fire, but everyone else turned it into a full-scale blaze," said Finger. "We had good rhythm, great aggression and it's hard to find fault with anything."

Critically, the Storm failed with seven consecutive offenses. The league's second best offensive rebounding unit were obliterated on the Bullets' boards, where Chris Haslam, HL Coleman, Clive Allen and Fabulous Flournoy took the major share of 33 defensive rebounds.

Derby must forget this whipping and focus on repeating last month's 62- 61 league win at the NEC, where they return for tomorrow night's second leg.

Sheffield Sharks must win both their home games to reach Wembley, starting with tomorrow night's return after losing 84-83 at Thames Valley on Saturday. The same task faces Newcastle Eagles after a 68-63 defeat at Wembley last night against London Towers.

Leading scorers: Derby: Berry 18, Smith 15, Windless 12; Birmingham: Dorsey 28, Kirk 22, Lloyd 16; Thames Valley: McCord 30, Holley 18, Siemon 18; Sheffield: Hames 24, Amaechi 19, Robinson 17. Towers: Lewis 17 Newcastle: Phelps 19.