Jamison loads up the Bullets

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The Independent Online

Birmingham Bullets put seven months of under-achievement and injuries behind them on Saturday, with an irresistible 40 minutes of aggression and intensity to overpower Sheffield Sharks 81-71 in the Dairylea Dunkers Championship quarter-finals, the first event staged at Coventry's impressive SkyDome Arena.

With the victory comes the chance to send the departing coach Mike Finger back to the United States with a second Wembley Championship medal, to add to the first he won during his debut season with Bullets in 1998. The captain, Nigel Lloyd, said: "It would be an unbelieveable send-off for him and we're determined to do it."

Once Peter Scantlebury limped out with an ankle sprain on seven minutes, Sharks lost their veteran's steadying influence and leading rebounder.

Shawn Jamison, 17 points and seven rebounds, and Justin Phoenix, who came off the bench to lead all scorers with 26 points, capitalised as Emiko Etete, Clive Allen and Fabulous Flournoy joined the aerial combat to out-rebound the Sharks 41-28.

The 6ft 10in Jamison posted Birmingham's intentions by jamming Todd Cauthorn's attempted lay-up against the backboard with the game's first play. Phoenix said: "Shawn set the tone and the rest of us followed."