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Basketball:Towers fall in overtime

London Towers 64 Verona 71

Verona blew the whistle on London Towers' anticipated move up their European Cup first-round group at Wembley Arena last night, beating them 71-64 in overtime to put their projected qualification for the knock-out stage back on hold.

Danny Lewis's two free throws, 34 seconds from time, forced the extra period at 55-55. But it was two misses from the line by Joe Hooks, unsettled by an Italian fan using a whistle from the crowd, that cost London the chance to regain the initiative with Verona leading 59-57.

Randolf Keys immediately opened a five-point lead and Verona pulled further away largely thanks to Danish international Joachim Jerichow who scored eight points, including six free throws in overtime.

Alan Cunningham had fought for the first three points for Towers and then Neville Austin and Karl Brown, who both missed the away game through injury, added the next four.

Two minutes later London's lead had disappeared. Giacomo Galandra, a 6ft 11in junior international, and Keys hit long three-pointers and another three by Keys gave Verona the lead.

Towers dug in. The inspirational Cunningham kept the ball alive, Danny Lewis chased back and, leaping like a salmon, jammed David Londero's lay- up against the London backboard.

London traded baskets until 13-14 down before Brown, with a two and a three-pointer, inspired a spell which put Towers 24-18 ahead and clinging to a 28-27 lead at the interval.

Leading scorers: London: Lewis 21pts, Brown 11, Cunningham 9. Verona: Keys 19, Jerichow 18, Bullara 16.