Basketball: Lloyd sets Tigers on the loose

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The Independent Online
Thames Valley Tigers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .84

CSKA Moscow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .72

IF RECENT history is anything to go by, Thames Valley Tigers' 84-72 win over CSKA Moscow in the World Invitation Club Basketball final at Crystal Palace last night could herald a clean sweep of this season's honours.

Last new year, Guildford beat Moscow in the final in the first of their five title successes and with Tigers leading the Carlsberg League and already in the NatWest Trophy final, where they face Guildford in two weeks' time, the omens are good.

Tigers' coach, Mick Bett, has brought a composure and purpose to an always talented but often brittle line-up and in the Barbadian Nigel Lloyd he has a court general to spread that influence to his players. Lloyd's 35 points were fitting reward for his potency from close or long range, but it was his presence of mind in capitalising on a ragged Moscow start to the second period which turned the game.

There was a dramatic prelude to the second half when Moscow's captain, Maxim Astanin, collapsed in the aftermath of a first- half collision with an advertising board. An examination revealed falling blood pressure and he was transported to hospital amid fears of an internal injury.

Tigers, 37-36 down at the interval, still trailed 42-41 when the Russians suddenly lost their concentration and began complaining fruitlessly to the officials over their opponents' physical play. This, coming from a Russian team, was laughable.

Suddenly, they were more concerned in trading elbows and taking out opponents than playing basketball and, with Lloyd seizing every opportunity to punish this lapse, CSKA fell 61-47 down with 10 minutes to go. Even an impressive late flurry of three-pointers could not save them.

Earlier, the women's title had been won by the Brazilian club, Ponte Preta, who beat Bex Banco Madrid 103-100 in overtime. The Brazilians' heroine was Carina Rodriguez, whose two free throws three seconds from the end tied the scores on 91-91.

Leading scorers: Thames Valley Lloyd 35, L James 18. Moscow Antipov 19, Kondratov 17.

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