Basketball: Threat to image of coaches

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The Independent Online
IF EITHER Manchester Giants or Derby Bucks win the Championship play-offs at Wembley Arena this weekend, their victory will do little for the prestige or self-image of coaches.

Rick Taylor, a director and general manager of the Giants, took over midway through the season after Jeff Jones was ousted. Taylor has been to Wembley before, but only as general manager to the Manchester United team in the mid-1980s, when they were coached by Joe Whelton.

Tim Rudge, who founded the Bucks 10 years ago, took a coaching role for the first time ever in the final week of the regular season after Terry Manghum was sacked.

Taylor deflects praise on to his players. 'They've adapted well to the change and I'm very pleased for them.' But the 42-year old Rudge is less reticent in claiming his share of the credit for a remarkable revival which saw the league's eighth- placed team eliminate the champions, Thames Valley Tigers, 2-0 in the quarter-finals.

'This is my team,' Rudge said. 'I recruited them last summer. I always believed they had a lot of talent, but they hadn't shown it on court. Now they believe in themselves.'

Trying to redress the balance for the full-time coaches is Kevin Cadle, of the Guildford Kings, and the 39-year-old player-coach of the Worthing Bears, Alan Cunningham, who lead their teams into tonight's semi-finals.

The Kings, whose players are still owed much of their salaries by their owner, Barry Dow, face Manchester, who have won all three league meetings between the two clubs.

Cadle said: 'The players weren't training in protest at not being paid when he lost those games. The biggest problem we faced was our own attitude, not

anything Manchester did

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