Basketball: Guildford new boys will feel heat

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The Independent Online

The British Basketball League's newest franchise, Guildford Heat, begin their season at the BBL Trophy and Play-off title holders Newcastle Eagles tonight, but with coach Paul James fearing they go into the encounter stone cold.

James said: "We've not even shot a ball in anger yet. We are working hard on coming together as a team, and if we can continue that into this game I hope we can be competitive."

The Heat ended last season as Thames Valley Tigers, but when owner John Nike pulled the plug on their finances they relocated to Guildford.

James, a former England international, was with the Tigers as player and coach from 1988 and has kept familiar faces around him at Guildford in the England players Rod Wellington, Dean Williams and Martin Gottfried.

His America contingent include Marlin Capers, who was with Sutton Pumas in the National League, point guard Brian Dux, Chad McKnight, and another England international in Mike Martin.

After last week's false start - when there were just four matches on the opening weekend of the season - this weekend's full programme sees three other clubs playing their first games.

London Towers are at home tonight against Plymouth Raiders, whose American centre Carlton Aaron has been ruled out by an ankle injury.

Sheffield Sharks begin their campaign at Birmingham Bullets tonight, while Milton Keynes Lions opened last night at home to Brighton Bears, who yesterday signed the English forward Lijah Perkins.