Basketball: Palace's cup runs could pose problem

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The Independent Online
Basketball

DUNCAN HOOPER

If Crystal Palace complete a hat-trick of National Cup wins over Budweiser League clubs in next month's semi-finals, they will pose an unprecedented problem for the organisers of Cup finals day at Sheffield Arena on Sunday 3 March.

Palace could face two finals, four hours apart. Palace, the First Division champions, are also through to the last four of the National Trophy, which excludes Budweiser League clubs, and have a semi-final against Croydon, whom they have already beaten by close to 50 points this season.

The Trophy final is at noon, followed by the women's final two hours later and the senior men's final at 4pm.

Alton Byrd, the Palace player-coach and general manager, admits the chances seem remote of beating Sheffield Sharks, the Budweiser League champions and Cup holders, in next month's semi-finals. "But then," Byrd said, "no one gave us a chance of beating London Leopards in the last eight."

Leopards, currently fourth in the Budweiser League, lost 80-75 to Palace in overtime on Wednesday and followed Doncaster Panthers out of the competition at the hands of the south London club. "In fact," Byrd added, "we match up pretty well with Sheffield for size and play a similar game based on patient offence and good defence. So, who knows?"

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