Basketball: `Sleeping' Giants take control

LONDON is losing the plot in this season's Budweiser League title race as defeats for both the Leopards and the Towers left the powerbase moving steadily north.

Manchester Giants, who beat Towers in midweek and Newcastle Eagles 84- 77 on Friday night, hold first place despite a weekend off. Sheffield Sharks, Derby Storm, Birmingham Bullets and Thames Valley Tigers field the next four places above Towers. Leopards are eighth, behind Newcastle, after losing 95-91 at home to Chester Jets on Saturday, although "home" was in Southend, the third venue this season for the wandering Leopards.

Jets' fourth win in five was clinched by an 11-1 run in the third as Greg Meldrum led their scorers with 20 points.

Leopards' second defeat of the weekend was at Sheffield last night, by 115-81, as the Sharks moved two points behind Giants.

Towers' fourth successive defeat, by 82-72 at Leicester City Riders, drew a sparkling 19 points from former player Karl Brown, in support of 20 from captain Billy Singleton.

Derby, who ended Sheffield's 12-game unbeaten start last weekend, overwhelmed Birmingham with a 19-0 run straddling the third and fourth quarters in their 85-77 win at the NEC. Yorick Williams, called into the England squad for next week's European Championship game with Denmark, led all scorers with 28 points.

Tigers beat Milton Keynes 77-70 and Edinburgh Rocks won their first game of the season with a 97-94 win at Worthing Bears.