Basketball: Bench power fires Guildford into play-offs

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The Independent Online

Newcastle Eagles, Scottish Rocks and Sheffield Sharks, the top three finishers in the British Basketball League, all clinched places in the play-off finals at the weekend. The fifth-placed Guildford Heat produced the only mild upset, ending the fourth-placed London Towers' challenge with a 99-81 win at Crystal Palace.

The Eagles, 78-74 winners over Brighton Bears on Friday, will face Guildford in the semi-finals at Birmingham's NIA on Saturday week. Sheffield will meet the Rocks, after both teams posted victories last night.

Sheffield beat Leicester Riders 101-85 after starting the final quarter with a 16-3 run. Iain McKinney scored six three-pointers from seven attempts in his 18 points for the Sharks and Sterling Davis led their scorers with 23. The Rocks dispatched Chester Jets 88-70, Jermaine Forbes leading their scorers with 23 points including seven three-pointers.

On Saturday the Guildford coach Paul James ran his bench to good effect as London tired in the fourth quarter. Brian Dux led the Heat with 24 points.

On Friday night Newcastle kept their clean sweep of all four domestic honours on track despite suspending the American Jeremy Hyatt, who was convicted last week of two driving offences.

The Eagles' managing director, Paul Blake, said: "Obviously this could not have come at a worse time for the club and is entirely out of character for Jeremy in his five years' service."

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