BASKETBALL: Surprise for Taylor as Leak takes his leave

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The Independent Online
LONDON TOWERS' general manager, Rick Taylor, might consider fitting a revolving door to his side's locker room after the latest spate of arrivals and departures at Crystal Palace saw Malcolm Leak leave the club for Leicester yesterday to be replaced by a former Rider, John Potter.

Taylor claimed to be "surprised and disappointed" yesterday morning by the 6ft 8in American's decision to join the coach, Billy Mims, at Leicester, and said: "We are scrambling around for a replacement."

Yet Towers plainly had already signed Potter, adding more credibility to rumours that Leak was told some weeks go that he would become the latest instalment in a season of disruption to Ron Abegglen's team.

First, Randy Duck quit when he was left out of the Saporta Cup roster for Europe, then Ray Schultz was forced out by the Basketball League's salary restrictions. Another American, Ruben Nembhard, also flitted in for a single game in the Towers' black and gold colours.

The chopping and changing is reflected in Towers' results. Although they take an unbeaten nine-game domestic run into tonight's London derby with the Leopards, they finished bottom of their Saporta Cup group after Tuesday's defeat against Aalst in Belgium.

Mims reacted quickly after learning of the availability of Leak, who does not require a work permit, and was due to give the all-court player his debut last night against Manchester Giants at the Granby Halls, where the Riders had won their previous two games after a run of 14 defeats.

"When I took over I said I wanted to bring an impact player to the club," Mims said, "and Malcolm makes us a better team right now."

Leopards, meanwhile, have quashed rumours that captain Robert Youngblood is one of several players wanting to leave following the sacking of Mims last month. Leopards have responded to a four-game losing streak by extending the contract of their new coach, Bob Donewald, into next season.

n On Christmas Eve, players from North and South Korea will meet for a match in Seoul in another attempt to promote good relations between the two countries. The game will be the last in a decade of goodwill sports exchanges.