Basketball: Mintoft adopts an unofficial line

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The Independent Online
PETER MINTOFT, of the Birmingham Bullets, respected as one of the quietest and most studious coaches in the Carlsberg League, has uncharacteristically increased the war of nerves on the officials before tonight's decisive play-off quarter-final against Guildford Kings at the Spectrum Arena, writes Duncan Hooper.

Following Birmingham's 92- 86 win at Aston Villa last Sunday and Guildford's 93-85 victory at the Spectrum on Wednesday, tonight's meeting is for a place in the Championship finals at Wembley Arena on 1 and 2 May.

Mintoft said: 'Guildford have only seven players and they need the protection of the referees to stay out of foul trouble. They certainly got that on Wednesday night.'

The Guildford coach, Kevin Cadle, omitted the renowned playmaker, Alton Byrd, from Wednesday's line-up, replacing him with the 6ft 6in Carl Miller, and is likely to do the same tonight. Cadle said: 'We miss Alton's control if we're defending a narrow lead over the final minutes, but we're quicker without him and Carl gives us more rebounds.'