Basketball: Tigers caught in American nightmare

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The Independent Online
Thames Valley Tigers take a lightweight line-up into tonight's National Cup quarter-final with London Leopards after ditching their 6ft 9in American Kevin Vulin.

The coach, Mick Bett, who admits his job is "on the line" after not winning a Budweiser League game since 5 October, has lined up Jeffrey Clifton as a replacement, but the American will not have work permit clearance in time to play.

The rapid turnover in personnel over the first two months of the season has vindicated the comments of the London Towers coach, Kevin Cadle, when the League announced it would allow five Americans per club. Cadle said: "Most clubs in this League don't have the finances or the contacts to recruit two decent Americans, let alone five."

Bett said: "When a coach or agent is selling you a player he emphasises the plus points. You only learn the minus points when they get here."

The League's pre-season hype on Vulin described him as the leading scorer in his college's conference, averaging 21 points and 12 rebounds. At Tigers, he averaged eight points and five rebounds.

David Johnson, the 6ft 10in Canadian released by Crystal Palace, makes his debut for the bottom club, Hemel and Watford Royals, who look for their first win of the season at home to Birmingham tomorrow.

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