Basketball: Late strike secures win for Tigers

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Thames Valley Tigers take a slender lead to Croatia for next week's second leg European Cup third-round tie against Split, after a spirited and organised display at Bracknell last night earned a 77-72 first leg victory.

Steve Bucknall, Tony Balogun and Tony Holley were outstanding for the Budweiser League champions, but it took a spectacular finale from Michael Hayles and Peter Scantlebury to stretch Tigers' lead in the final four seconds.

Tigers were leading 74-72 when Hayles was awarded two free throws after being fouled by Split's American, Kurt Portmann.

Hayles scored the first, rebounded his own second shot and threw up a speculative hoick which Scantlebury caught before dunking over the Croatian defence.

Tigers led 39-33 at half time but fell behind to a second half blitz of five consecutive three- pointers from Nenad Videka. His second snatched the lead at 43-41 and by the time he slotted away his fifth Crotia led 54-49.

Bucknall and Holley combined brilliantly under the Split basket to steady Tigers and regain the lead.

LEADING SCORERS: Tigers: Bucknall 19, Holley 17, Scantelbury 12, Balogun 10.

Split: Videka 19, Portmann 12, Vrankovic 10.