Basketball: London Leopards take a Finger licking

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The Independent Online
MIKE SMITH, the Basketball League Chief Executive, might take some convincing this week when Birmingham Bullets coach Mike Finger asks him to rubberstamp new signings for the club.

Smith, financial guardian of the Bullets while the League find a new owner, arrived at the NEC on Saturday night in time to see Nigel Lloyd's lay-up seal a 77-66 victory over Greater London Leopards.

The win was Bullets' second in a week with just five senior players, and puts them into the last eight of the League Trophy after they took control with a 15-0 run in the third quarter.

Smith, an accountant, promised to be sympathetic but might wonder whether Finger needs any more players. "Mike makes the decision about players," said Smith. "I'll just look over the finances."

After a troubled 10 days, Finger was rightly ecstatic: "I'm really proud of the players. Everyone is stepping up to take responsibility. They're fun to coach."

Fun has not figured too much in Finger's schedule since Christmas Eve, when Mark Considine and Chuck Guitar left the club. Mark Robinson seems certain to follow this week but former player H L Coleman could be returning.

Apart from a few seconds at the end of the first half, Nigel Lloyd, Reggie Kirk, Clive Allen, Fabulous Flounoy and Tony Simms played all 40 minutes, as they did in last weekend's win over Leicester.

Simms, a former England international, nailed six three-pointers and revelled in having his court time upped from an average of six minutes to the maximum.

Finger said: "Tony's been given his chance in adverse circumstances and he has responded. Every time he scored his confidence grew."

Derby Storm were beaten 81-76 in their League encounter with London Towers, where the home team were without flu victims Malcolm Leak and Martin Henlan.