Basketball: Thames Valley get off to a flyer: Towers toppled by fast-moving Latvians

THAMES VALLEY TIGERS took leisurely first steps towards defending their World Invitation Club Basketball title at Crystal Palace last night, beating Basket Flyers Vienna 107-70 as the Austrians rarely forced them above the pace of a training session.

Nigel Lloyd, with 24 points, and Tony Holley, with 19, dominated the scoring but Vienna were softened up by a relentless assault from Michael Hayles, Peter Scantlebury, Michael Obaseki and Tony Balogun. Three three-pointers from Nick Cook, executed from acres of space after Tigers had destroyed the defence, epitomised their domination. Tomorrow's semi-final opponents, Broceni Riga, will demand that Thames Valley move more swiftly into gear.

London Towers were ready to face Bulgarians in their opening game but found the Latvians from Riga were more than ready when called on to perform 24 hours earlier than they expected.

Levski Spartak withdrew from the tournament on Wednesday night when the familiar story of lack of funds provoked a players' strike, leaving London without any opponents until Riga turned a scheduled training session into a 102-71 win over the Budweiser League's fourth-placed club.

Peter Scantlebury has been elected president of the first Basketball Players Association.

WORLD INVITATION CLUB BASKETBALL (Crystal Palace): Broceni Riga 102 (Zeidaks 24, Balatskis 16, Gadachev 12) London Towers 71 (Scantlebury 18, Moore 15); Thames Valley Tigers 107 (Lloyd 24, Holley 19, Cook 13, Balogun 13) Basket Flyers Vienna 70 (Lott 23, Davies 22).