Basketball: Towers pay for American dependence

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The Independent Online
LONDON TOWERS lost 88-84 against Croatia Split in their opening Saporta Cup Group Game at Crystal Palace last night emphasising, if they needed reminding, that recruiting a team with five Americans for the domestic game cuts little ice when you must leave three of them out for Europe.

Despite the defiance of Steve Bucknall and Danny Lewis, Split recovered from 21-10 down to lead 26-25 then stayed ahead throughout a close game.

Lewis was partnered by Malcolm Leak, the only two of Towers' foreigners registered after regulations forced the club to leave out the players' fellow Americans Ray Schultz, Donnie Johnson and Randy Duck.

Bucknell scored 23 points in support of 32 from Lewis. Just as vital was Bucknell's defensive performance in smothering Split's experienced Nikola Vujcic. He was shackled when Bucknell was on the floor, but the 31-year-old took advantage when the former Crystal Palace junior was resting on the bench to score most of his 26 points.

Towers trailed 84-75 but then Leak, twice and Lewis cut their lead to 84-81. But by the time Towers scored again, Leak's three-pointer could only restrict the Croatians' winning margin. Next Tuesday Towers face even tougher opposition when Milan visit Crystal Palace.

In the Korac Cup qualifying round second leg, London Leopards beat Reykjanesbaer 80-78, but lost 189-155 on aggregate to the Icelanders.