Basketball: Giants sweat over Amaechi's decision

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The Independent Online

The English Basketball League season tips off this weekend with the major titles destined for new homes following the defection of the League and National Cup winners, Plymouth Raiders, to the top-flight British Basketball League, whose fixtures start in two weeks' time.

The English Basketball League season tips off this weekend with the major titles destined for new homes following the defection of the League and National Cup winners, Plymouth Raiders, to the top-flight British Basketball League, whose fixtures start in two weeks' time.

Manchester Giants travel to Sheffield with a rebuilt team after losing four of their best young players to American colleges, including the head coach, Jeff Jones's son Callum.

Giants are also in the dark over the intentions of the former NBA player John Amaechi, rumoured to be joining the BBL champions, Brighton Bears.

Essex Leopards, who withdrew from the BBL two seasons ago, have reformed as Essex & Herts Leopards by merging with Ware Rebels, and they face London United at Brentwood. The Leopards have signed the American Brian Moore, a popular import with the Leopards' BBL franchise.

Leopards' coach, Jon Burnell, who led the Rebels to eighth place in the table last season, said: "We are aiming to be in the top four clubs and from there we can strike for one of the trophies." United's three new signings include the Polish centre Sebastian Saloman.

Solent Stars have injury doubts over Phil Long and Karl Mroch, as well as visa complications for Marlin Capers, ahead of their match with Coventry Crusaders.

* The Chester Jets have added the 6ft 6in forward Theo Dixon to their squad for the forthcoming BBL campaign. Dixon played for London Towers during the 2002-03 season, averaging 15.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

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