Basketball: Bullets and Riders continue to slide

The BBL championhip's down and outs slipped further off the pace last night when both Birmingham Bullets and Leicester Riders continued their dismal sequence of results.

The BBL championhip's down and outs slipped further off the pace last night when both Birmingham Bullets and Leicester Riders continued their dismal sequence of results.

The Bullets, whose European Champions' Cup quest finished with defeat against Dijon on Wednesday, were beaten 89-86 at Newcastle Eagles last night to leave them with just one win from 12 games and firmly rooted to the foot of the table.

The Riders, beaten 102-96 by Essex Leopards in Brentwood are one place above the Bullets after their 11th consecutive defeat, which equals the worst run in the franchise's history.

Both beleagured coaches were facing their former clubs and the prospects look unlikely to improve for either tonight. Tony Garbelotto's Bullets are at home to the third-placed Brighton Bears, while Billy Mims takes the injury-hit Riders to Crystal Palace to face London Towers.

Riders trailed 84-71 at the end of the third last night, but the recent signing Eric Burks, also playing against his former club, scored nine consecutive points to cut the Leopards' lead to 98-94. Marshall Sanders made the game safe for Leopards.

Bullets played a typically tight defensive game, the style that took them to six wins out of 10 in the Champions' Cup West Conference, but again paid a heavy price for lacking a true point guard.

Bullets led 86-82 with two minutes remaining before a three-pointer from T J Walker cut their lead to a point. Eagles' Charles Smith then twice stole possession, the first time drawing a foul and then scoring a single free throw to tie the scores on 86-86. Smith intercepted Bullets inbounds pass with five seconds left and passed to Jeremy Hyatt, who scored the winning three-pointer with two seconds to go. Nick Arinze led Eagles scorers with 25 points, while Michael Jackson hit 26 for the Bullets.

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