Basketball: Travel takes heavy toll of Towers

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Leicester City Riders' status as underdogs in the semi-finals of the Sainsbury's Classic Cola National Cup is undermined by the punishing schedule being endured by their opponents, London Towers.

Towers, the Budweiser League leaders, stay favourites to eliminate Riders, currently 10th. But both tonight's first leg at Wembley and next week's second leg will be played within 24 hours of London's return from sapping and now pointless trips in the European Cup.

London returned yesterday from an 85-70 defeat in Hungary against Honved Budapest, having already failed to qualify for the knock-out stage after losing eight of their nine group games.

Next week Leicester have home advantage the day after London return from completing their European travels against Rhondorf in Germany.

Typically, the Riders coach, Bob Donewald, refuses to pump up his team's chances: "I think we're in over our heads, but we just have to come out and fight. We definitely need to produce more than we have against London in the past."

Riders are appearing in their first semi-final in five years, whereas Towers' coach, Kevin Cadle, is attempting to win the cup for the fifth time in nine years.

Derby Storm have completed the registration of the 6ft 9in Canadian, Brendon Graves, to replace DeRon Rutledge, who has failed to recover from injury. Graves will make his debut on Saturday at home to Towers, their third game in five days.