Basketball: Heat fans aim to swing semi-final

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The Independent Online

The Guildford Heat coach, Paul James, will be calling on his "sixth man" - "all 1,300 of them" - when his team chase a place in the semi-finals of the British Basketball League Cup against Plymouth Raiders at The Spectrum tonight.

The Heat, reborn last summer after the demise of Thames Valley Tigers thanks to the commitment of the staff, players, fans and local businesses, have bumped up attendances by more than half since moving from Bracknell. Regular crowds touching 1,300 would thrill any non-League football outfit in the Heat's area and the club's chairman, Mike Davies, does not underestimate their influence on Guildford's excellent start to the season.

Davies said: "The people of Guildford are really getting behind us. They're showing that by turning up every week." And he believes they made the difference in last weekend's win over Leicester Riders. "Riders came back from 22 points down to trail by six. The crowd were on their feet and we forced two turnovers and scored off both to seal the win."

James also hopes to make home advantage count one week after the Heat lost 76-73 at Plymouth in a BBL Trophy group game. James said: "We let them get away early on. If you give them a 21-point lead you've dug your own grave. They are very tough to beat on their own court." He hopes the same quality will apply to his team tonight.

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