Basketball: Tigers set tall test

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Thames Valley Tigers tonight launch this week's European assault by six English clubs, the largest contingent to take on Continental opposition in a single season.

Tigers face the Swedish club, Vastra Frolunda, in the first leg, first round of the European Cup, trying to shrug off the loss of two of last season's leading players, Steve Bucknall and Neville Austin, to London Towers.

Mick Bett, the Tigers' coach, wants to ease the pressure on his new signing, Derek Izilien, but knows the 6ft 10in centre must quickly compensate for the loss of Austin, who is the same height.

Bett said: "We'll give Derek time to settle and won't expect too much at first, but he should give us some strength off the bench at least." Izilien, brought up in Nigeria, had largely unimpressive spells with Derby, Doncaster and Hemel two seasons ago. With the 6ft 6in Peter Scantlebury and Carl Miller the next tallest in the line-up, Tigers look undersized for a prolonged European campaign.

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