Basketball: Tigers on the treble trail

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The Independent Online
WHILE Manchester United chase their treble, Thames Valley Tigers aim to go one better. The Tigers already hold the League Trophy, are firm favourites for the Budweiser League and if they beat Worthing Bears in tonight's National Cup final that will leave only the play-offs to come in May, writes Duncan Hooper.

In front of a 7,000 crowd at the Sheffield Arena tonight, Worthing have one of the few remaining opportunities to prevent Tigers from emulating Kingston's clean sweeps of 1990 and 1992.

The Bears player-coach, Alan Cunningham, acknowledges that his team lost all chance of retaining the league title with last Saturday's 106-88 home defeat against Birmingham Bullets and has spent the week warning his players against repeating the slow start which cost them last week's game.

'We've beaten Tigers twice this season, they've beaten us three times. Our wins were down to our defence and we must stop them settling into their rhythm,' he said.

Tigers maintained their winning rhythm with an 85-76 win on Thursday night at Derby Bucks, which took them two points clear of Manchester Giants at the top of the league.

Back in January, Nigel Lloyd, Thames Valley's Barbadian guard, controlled the trophy final when they beat Manchester and it is his grip the Bears will have to break.

Thames Valley have won the cup only once, in 1989, while Worthing lost to Guildford last season in their only previous appearance in the final.