Basketball: League keeps Blake busy

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The Independent Online

Paul Blake, the British Basketball League's chairman, would have preferred to spend a significant part of the past week concentrating on his other role as the managing director of the Newcastle Eagles, currently England's most successful club, who face Leicester Riders tomorrow at Coventry's Skydome in the BBL Trophy Final.

"It's been five full days on League work," said Blake. The fall-out has not yet settled from last weekend's decision by the Birmingham Bullets' owner, Craig Bown, to cancel a fixture with the Milton Keynes Lions and the question of whether the Brighton Bears ignored eligibility rules in playing the NBA legend and Celebrity Big Brother participant, Dennis Rodman, against the Guildford Heat.

Blake said: "We are not sweeping these issues under the carpet. They will be dealt with in the proper manner but they are not as straightforward as some would like to think."

Bown's team played Thursday night's game at Brighton, a 105-92 defeat, after the BBL agreed to a disciplinary commission to consider bans given to the player-coach, Skouson Harker, and Yorick Williams.

Blake said: "There is a range of issues Craig wants raised, which I cannot disclose. None of them relate to his cancelling the Lions game, which will be dealt with as a separate issue."

The Bears coach, Nick Nurse, claims that he did not use more than the three allowed work permit players against Guildford because Andrew Alleyne has qualified as a dual national this season. Blake said: "We are waiting for Nick to supply Alleyne's passport so we can check the date stamp."

The Eagles have signed the 6ft 6in Englishman Olu Babalola, but he is ineligible for the final. The Riders' plans have been disrupted by Robert Reed leaving the club. That is a concern for England's coach, Peter Scantlebury, who has picked the 6ft 11in forward-centre in his squad for next month's Commonwealth Games.

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