Basketball: Two losses and Arinze's injury shatter Rocks

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The Independent Online

The Scottish Rocks coach, Steve Swanson, called it the "biggest challenge of the season" and their weekend on the road at London Towers and Brighton Bears proved just that, as their challenge in the BBL Championship imploded with two heavy defeats and a serious injury to their key American Niki Arinze. The 6ft 6in Arinze twisted a knee six minutes into the 93-79 defeat against Towers at Crystal Palace on Saturday night and missed last night's 82-63 defeat at Brighton.

Arinze's place in the Rocks line-up is now in doubt for the BBL Cup final against Sheffield Sharks at Birmingham's NIA on Sunday 11 January, and the Glasgow-based club will assess the extent of his injury this morning.

Swanson will have to decide whether to draft in a replacement for the final, but under the 14-day rule for registration any new player must be signed by Monday of next week. There is no "cup-tied" rule for the BBL, so Swanson could sign a player who had been registered with another BBL club earlier this season.

Despite Arinze's injury, Towers pulled clear with an 8-2 run only in the fourth quarter. Ricardo Greer led their scorers with 22 points, although Rocks' Jerry Williams topped the stats with 27.

Brighton took control last night, with bursts of 6-0 and 14-3 in the third and fourth quarters, as Kendrick Warren (19 points) led their scorers. Bears' Michael Brown scored all of his 15 from long range.

On Saturday night, Brighton qualified for the semi-finals of the BBL Trophy by beating Thames Valley Tigers 82-61 at Bracknell, where they needed only to avoid a 12-point defeat to go through.

Tigers, adjusting to the new point guard, Todd Cetnar, as a replacement for Nick Moore, were no match once the Bears hit a 9-0 run in the third quarter. Randy Duck, who led all scorers with 19 points, orchestrated Bears' offence, and bursts of 7-0 and 6-0 opened up the decisive 75-54 lead.

Milton Keynes Lions can still qualify over London Towers after beating Bullets 88-75 in Birmingham.