Basketball: Mims' role under threat after Riders' woeful start

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The Independent Online

Pressure is building on Leicester Riders' coach Billy Mims, whose team try to earn their first win of the season at the seventh attempt against Newcastle Eagles at Loughborough University tonight. Leicester's 84-34 defeat at unbeaten leaders Sheffield Sharks on Thursday night was their third by 30 points or more this season and their 23rd BBL loss in a row since they beat the London Towers back in February.

The immediate aftermath of Thursday's defeat, when Riders were not even competitive until the end of the first quarter, was for fans to post messages on the club's website pleading with Mims to quit.

It's a sad decline for the 43-year-old from South Carolina who led the "Cinderella" Riders to the National Cup and play-off titles in 2001 as rank outsiders, but the fans clearly feel that the ball is over now and the club's new administration needs to act.

An under-strength Eagles may give Mims the chance of at least running a close game tonight, as Jeremy Hyatt may not have recovered from a groin strain.

Eagles' coach Fab Flournoy hopes he will not have to risk the 6ft5in forward, who is from Mims' neighbouring State of North Carolina.

Eagles have won three and lost three and Flournoy said: "I want to rest him for however long it takes. We just want to get through this rough patch and stay at 50 per cent [win-loss ratio] until everyone gets healthy."

Thames Valley Tigers' coach Paul James will be able to evaluate his club's chances of silverware this season, after they play the second-placed Brighton Bears tonight and the Sharks tomorrow.

James said: "It's probably the most difficult weekend you can get and we will have to work hard to get something out of it."