Basketball: Raiders welcome former stars

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The Independent Online

Plymouth Raiders anticipate a sell-out crowd for their BBL Trophy group game at The Pavilions tonight when two former crowd favourites play for visitors Thames Valley. And the home fans expect a win, with Tigers' coach Paul James showing little interest in the game.

Plymouth Raiders anticipate a sell-out crowd for their BBL Trophy group game at The Pavilions tonight when two former crowd favourites play for visitors Thames Valley. And the home fans expect a win, with Tigers' coach Paul James showing little interest in the game.

Dean Williams and Roderick Wellington swapped Devon for Bracknell last summer, when the Raiders were still an EBL team, to seek top flight basketball in the BBL. A few weeks later Raiders made the step-up themselves and, unlike Tigers, still have a slim chance of topping the group to reach the Trophy semi-finals after winning the first game in Bracknell.

James said: "I'm writing this game off - it's a dead match. It gives me a chance to rest a couple of the guys who are carrying niggles. We've been winning and we want to continue that obviously. But this isn't the most important game in the world right now."

James is more interested in using tonight as training for when the teams meet in a Championship game at Bracknell on Tuesday. "In the first Trophy game they embarrassed us in front of our fans and that wasn't a very nice feeling. We know their strengths and weaknesses and tonight we can try a few things we can use on Tuesday," James said.

Raiders fans hope James won't rest Williams or Wellington. Coach Gary Stronach said: "They were an integral part of the Raiders success story and will always be welcome here.

"They were always firm favourites with the crowd so I hope we get a huge crowd to welcome them back to their spiritual home court."

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