Basketball: Mims rejuvenates Riders

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THE ODDS are still stacked against Leicester City Riders winning a championship this season, but now they at least have a champion coach, and on Saturday night the players and crowd responded as Billy Mims knew they would.

The transformation Mims brought to the Granby Halls means the Riders' long-suffering supporters can look forward to the rest of the season, silverware or not, and after the 107-101 victory over London Leopards the coach and his players were mobbed on court.

Mims and his opposite number, Bob Donewald, can be guaranteed to create a drama out of the most mundane fixture. But on this occasion the script - "straight out of Hollywood" according to Mims - had been written for them.

Leicester had lost all 14 previous games against league clubs and Mims' debut was against the team who sacked him two months ago and who he led to two league championships and a national cup. The extra element for the locals was that Donewald was their former coach. "The crowd were our sixth man," said Mims.

Karl Brown, an England veteran whose game was stifled under previous coach, Tim Darling, regained his jump shot and penetrating drives to score 18 points. Kevin St Kitts, 36 this week, hit 23 points in his best performance of the season.

St Kitts said: "Billy freed us to play the game that suits the players, up tempo, forcing the other team into mistakes and outscoring them. Before this we were too tentative. Too many of us were scared of making the wrong decisions on court."

Mims said: "Give me the guys who will believe in me and do what I ask and it will work."

Now Riders have to build on one win out of 15. "All we've had have been defeats," St Kitts said. "This has got to be better."