Basketball: Leopards plan style offensive for Sharks

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The Independent Online
Billy Mims, the Leopards' coach, hopes his players' rip-roaring style will win over the neutrals in the 6,000 crowd in the opening minutes of the Classic Cola National Cup final against the Sharks in Sheffield Arena tomorrow.

The Sharks are on home territory for their third consecutive final after beating London Towers in 1995 and losing to them last year. Now it is left to the Leopards to try and keep the trophy in the capital.

Mims, whose team were ripped apart 111-79 by London Towers in a 7-Up League Trophy quarter-final first leg on Thursday night, says: "There will be three or four thousand neutrals in the crowd and we can get them on our side by the way we start the game."

The Leopards have beaten the Sharks at Sheffield Arena in a Budweiser League game, but also lost at home to them in a fiery encounter in which nine players fouled out. But they go into this game seriously under-strength.

The Leopards' American centre, Tim Davis, struggled through seven minutes against the Towers on Thursday after returning from a bout of pneumonia which cost him nearly 30 pounds in weight. "My feeling is we'll have to go without him," Mims said. That will put extra rebounding responsibility on Robert Youngblood and John Tresvant against the powerful Sharks trio of the England international Roger Huggins and the Americans Voise Winters and Todd Cauthorn.

Both clubs are challenging the Towers and Chester Jets for the league title. The Sharks coach, Jim Brandon, hopes victory tomorrow will herald a repeat of their 1995 success when Sheffield's Cup final victory was followed by the league championship three months later.

n The England international Tony Simms has joined Worthing Bears from Newcastle Eagles.