Basketball: Lions on track for final play-off place

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The Independent Online

The Milton Keynes Lions can sew up the final spot in the BBL Championship play-off quarter-finals this weekend if they beat London Towers tonight and, more importantly, win at home to the Birmingham Bullets tomorrow.

The Milton Keynes Lions can sew up the final spot in the BBL Championship play-off quarter-finals this weekend if they beat London Towers tonight and, more importantly, win at home to the Birmingham Bullets tomorrow.

They will need a bit of luck with other results also having to go their way, but the eighth-placed Lions have the chance to deny Bullets and Essex Leopards, ninth and tenth respectively, the opportunity to prolong otherwise disappointing seasons by qualifying for the knock-out competition.

Nigel Lloyd, the Lions coach, said: "I like our chances of qualifying better than the other two because we are ahead. As long as we play hard and accept the challenge I think we will be OK.

"I have positive vibes coming from the guys and they believe that we are capable of doing it."

Tomorrow's game against the Bullets – whose morale seems in danger of collapsing after substantial defeats against the Sheffield Sharks and Newcastle Eagles in the past week – completes the four-game series between the clubs.

The Lions lead 2-1, but the Bullets have a plus-two points advantage which means a Birmingham victory will give them the series should the teams finish the season on equal wins.

Tony Garbelotto, the Bullets coach, hopes it is an incentive which will lift his team after Wednesday night's 111-79 surrender at Newcastle Eagles, a performance he described as dismal.

"We almost control our own destiny," Garbelotto said. But unless they beat the Chester Jets tonight and the Lions tomorrow a season which has been wracked by off-court wranglings between the coach and players against the owner of the club, Craig Bown, will effectively be over.

Like Bullets, the Leopards have no margin for error in games at Eagles tonight and at home to Thames Valley Tigers tomorrow, but it is hard to see them winning either.

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