Basketball: Longpre leaves Lions in the lurch

The Milton Keynes Lions' attempt to beat the Plymouth Raiders for eighth place in the BBL Championship and the last qualifying spot for the play-offs suffered two setbacks this week.

The Milton Keynes Lions' attempt to beat the Plymouth Raiders for eighth place in the BBL Championship and the last qualifying spot for the play-offs suffered two setbacks this week.

First, the Lions' American rookie Brett Longpre left for home. Then the Birmingham Bullets' coach Darran Ling dropped his Americans, LaTaryl Williams and Johnny Phillips, ahead of their game at Plymouth tonight.

Longpre, a 6ft 5in guard from Pennsylvania, was the Lions' leading scorer, the second best free-throw shooter in the BBL and was ranked 13th in the three-point shooting stats.

The Lions' head coach Nigel Lloyd said: "It is a shame Brett has made this decision, especially without consulting myself or the management. The coaching staff has worked hard with him throughout the season and I know the club has taken care of all his needs. However, it is up to him."

The Lions' owner, Vince Macauley-Razaq, said: "I feel sorry for his team-mates that he has let down as well as everyone connected with the club, especially at this time as we look set for the play-offs. The lads will have to work even harder."

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