Bullets aim for Finch to take Finger role

The Birmingham Bullets' owner, Craig Bown, will step up his pursuit of Chris Finch, the Sheffield Sharks coach, after Mike Finger said yesterday he will be leaving the club at the end of the season to return to Iowa with his pregnant wife.

Bown made it clear earlier this month he wanted Finch if Finger did not accept the offer of a new two-year contract. Despite Finch saying at the weekend that he was happy at Sheffield, Bown believes he can tempt the American away from the club where he has spent the last seven years.

After winning the Wembley play-offs two seasons ago, the Bullets have failed to rise above injuries and internal dissent. Bown alluded to problems with personnel, and suggested some players objected to playing in a style which did not suit them.

Bown was full of praise for Finger yesterday, saying: "Mike has done a first-class job here and with us already in the quarter-finals of the championships, we are hoping he will go out on a high by taking us to the final at Wembley."

Finger said: "After much soul-searching I have decided to go back to Iowa and spend some time with my family. I have enjoyed my time in Birmingham and feel honoured to have coached at such a great club."

London Towers, who won the League Trophy by beating Manchester Giants 74-73 on Saturday, will become the first winners of the Southern Conference title on Wednesday by beating the bottom club Brighton Bears.

* In the NBA, Orlando Magic and their England centre, John Amaechi, lost valuable ground in the race for the eighth and final place in the Eastern Conference play-offs with a 89-85 defeat at Philadelphia.

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