Basketball: Roberts must return home

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The Independent Online
MANCHESTER GIANTS and the basketball authorities pulled back from confrontation yesterday over allegations that the Budweiser League Club broke salary cap rules - with the result that Porter Roberts, the American point guard, heads back to his home in Chattanooga, Tennessee, today.

The Giants yesterday submitted a revised player list for the season omitting the name of Roberts. The League accepted the new roster and then cancelled the appeals hearing, which had been set for last night.

However, Jay Goldberg, the Giants general manager, rejected the claim that by sending home Roberts they acknowledged their original line-up had exceeded the salary cap of around pounds 150,000 per club.

Goldberg said: "It is not an acknowledgement that we broke the cap. The League asked us to follow certain procedures, we have done that and now Porter is going home.

"It's not easy to explain to a young kid that he's lost his job, not because he wasn't good enough, but because of a perception in the League about this club. But he took it like a man.

"We could have dragged this out all season but now we must move on with a smile. I have a 17,000-seat arena to fill and people want to see a winning team."

Roberts' defensive intensity was expected to be a key force in bringing a major honour to Manchester for the first time in club history. The former Purdue University Boilermaker was defensive player of the year in American college basketball's prestigious Big 10 conference and spent last season playing in South America.

The 24-year-old Roberts played 38 minutes in Giants' opening night 86- 81 win over Birmingham on Saturday.

The Giants' John White has recovered from injury and is fit to face Thames Valley tomorrow.