Basketball: New structure benefits fans

AS IF the drama and tension of the occasion was not enough, Terrell Myers' last second shot which won the Budweiser League championship for Sheffield Sharks two weeks ago against Manchester Giants now has added significance.

The Sharks will be the last team to win England's premier basketball competition ending a line of champions which began in 1973 with Avenue and whose roll call includes Embassy All Stars, Crystal Palace, Doncaster, Solent, Portsmouth and Kingston.

"It's a nice touch to think we'll be the last champions," said the Sharks general manager, Yuri Matischen, "but it's purely incidental in this restructuring of the game."

Next season the Budweiser League will be contested in north and south conferences, with the play-offs deciding the championship instead of a fabricated end of season jamboree.

Jay Goldberg, Manchester's general manager, who was in the front office of the Houston Rockets when they won the NBA title in 1994, put forward his plans for the competition last year. He has since worked with Matischen and the league's Rob Webb and Tim Rudge in devising the new structure.

Goldberg said: "It's a bold and exciting development. People are often asked why we bothered going through play-offs when we've spent the previous eight months beating the hell out of each other. Now the play-off winner will be the undisputed champion."

Matischen agreed: "The play-offs were just an add-on and made no sense. We don't have to stick with a league structure, we're not soccer and don't want to be."

Six teams in the south conference and seven in the north will play twice home and away against conference members, and once home and away against teams from the other conference.

A proposed play-off structure, yet to be agreed, will reward each conference champion by giving them a bye to the finals. The third and fourth team in each conference would play off for the right to meet the two second- placed teams, with the winners joining the conference champions in the finals.

Fans will benefit from an increased number of local games. The League chairman, Kevin Routledge, said: "Fans want to follow their team to away games but are prevented by long travelling distances and evening tip-offs. This move will put more games within their reach."

In a further move, next season the quarter-finals of the uni-ball League Trophy and national cup will move to single venue events played over one day or a weekend, maximising large capacity arenas and guaranteeing television coverage.

Next weekend sees the last play-offs under the present format at the Wembley Arena, between Sheffield, Manchester, Thames Valley Tigers and London Towers.

Next season's southern conference will include Brighton, Greater London, London, Thames Valley, Milton Keynes and Birmingham. The northern conference will be made up of Leicester, Derby, Sheffield, Manchester, Chester, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

n Martin Ford has been promoted to head coach at Derby Storm after being assistant to Bob Donewald, whose contract was not renewed for the new season which begins in September.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral