Basketball: Middling display frustrates Palmer

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The Independent Online
THE REALISATION that three weeks ago he might have died after a motoring accident put a sobering perspective on events at this week's World Invitation Club Basketball tournament at Crystal Palace for Danny Palmer, the American coach of the German club, Stuttgart.

The 6ft 10in Palmer is also a well-known figure in English basketball. He coached Crystal Palace before leading Portsmouth to the league championship title in 1987.

Palmer brought his car to a safe halt when it skidded on an icy road in France three weeks ago, but another vehicle slammed into the driver's door.

Although he attended hospital after the accident, he collapsed at his hotel in the early hours of the following morning. His partner in his sports promotions company took him back to the hospital where it was discovered his spleen had ruptured and over three pints of blood had seeped into his stomach.

'They told me I could have bled to death in my sleep. I tell you, something like that stops you worrying too much about the little things in life.'

Even so, Stuttgart's 93-91 quarter-final defeat against USK Prague had Palmer pacing the sideline and slapping the advertising board in frustration. He puts the defeat down to a typical 'middle-class' performance, yet his team are the only club in Germany to defeat the champions, Leverkusen, this season.

'Basketball in Germany is a middle-class game,' says Palmer, 'and Stuttgart is one of the richest areas in Europe. Some of my team plan to be doctors or lawyers and come from wealthy families. That doesn't make for hungry basketball players.'

Five times in the game Stuttgart were one shot away from opening a double-figure lead but in the end were beaten by a three-point shot, three seconds from time, from Prague's Petr Treml.

Thames Valley Tigers, the leaders of the Carlsberg League First Division, play Solna Vikings, of Sweden, in tonight's semi-finals. Tigers' Nigel Lloyd scored 27 of his 35 points in the second half of the 91-80 win over another German club, Braunschweig. Solna beat the under-strength title holders, Guildford Kings, 78-66.

(Photograph omitted)