Basketball: Bears snatch the initiative from Sharks in title chase

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Eleven games to go and Brighton Bears will be unstoppable in pursuit of their first BBL Championship title since moving from Worthing as long as they keep winning, starting at home to Thames Valley Tigers tonight.

The balance of power shifted on Thursday when the defending champions, Sheffield Sharks, lost 96-89 at home to Newcastle Eagles - their third defeat in eight days - to complete a slide from top spot.

Brighton's eventually unsuccessful campaign in Europe's Uleb Cup has left them hardened and too aggressive for most opponents, with Jason Siemon, 6ft 9in, Andrew Alleyne and Kendrick Warren, both 6ft 8in, Tom Frederick at 6ft 7in and the 6ft 5in duo Rico Alderson and Sullivan Phillips providing power and accuracy around the basket.

Michael Brown and the former England international Yorick Williams control the backcourt and ensure the scoring opportunities are spread around. Significantly, only two Bears are in the top 20 scorers, but their four tallest players are among the 20 most accurate shooters.

The EBL Division One club Worthing Thunder, who replaced the Bears at their former home, are also chasing glory when they play Sutton Pumas in the National Trophy final today at University College, Worcester.