Basketball: Bears succumb to Myers

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London Towers successfully defended their Southern Conference title, holding off the challenge of Brighton Bears, by defeating London Leopards 107-95 at Crystal Palace last night in their final game of the regular season. Terrell Myers, the leading contender for the season's Most Valuable Player award, led Towers' scorers with 38 points as the new coach David Lindstrom emulated last season's success of Nick Nurse, who now coaches Brighton.

The Bears set up their last-minute dash for the Southern title by beating the Northern Conference champions Chester Jets 95-87 on Saturday night, taking control with a 12-1 run straddling the third and fourth quarters for a 73-63 lead. But Brighton needed the Leopards to beat the Towers, leaving the way clear for them to finish first in the South if they could beat Birmingham Bullets at The Triangle last night.

Nurse's players responded with a fourth-quarter surge to win 95-84 after the Bullets had led for most of the game. Brighton's Randy Duck scored six points in an 8-2 run for an 86-80 lead, then the Bears scored the last seven points.

Milton Keynes Lions claimed the final quarter-final place for the play-offs on Saturday night, coming from behind to win 74-70 at Leopards by scoring four points inside the final 20 seconds after the home team's Rico Alderson was called for an "unsportsmanlike foul". Leopards' defeat against Towers last night cost them third place in the South and they now slip to fourth below the Lions. The triumph for Lions' veteran player-coach Nigel Lloyd was at the expense of his former club Birmingham.

Bullets did all they could to protect a record of never failing to qualify for the play-offs in 13 seasons in the top flight, by winning 99-85 at Thames Valley Tigers on Saturday night. Their game finished half-an-hour earlier than the fixture at Brentwood, where Leopards led for all but the final four minutes, and Bullets felt they would have the chance at Brighton of preserving their play-off record.

But two free throws from Andrew Alleyne secured Lions' place in the last eight for the third successive season, after Lloyd led them to the first final in the franchise's history two weeks ago.