Towers try to restore pride and purpose

After two defeats in a week, London Towers aim to put their cosmopolitan schedule back on track by earning a place in the NTL National Cup semi-finals at Aston Villa Leisure Centre tomorrow, when they face Manchester Giants in the first of four last-eight ties at the Birmingham venue.

After two defeats in a week, London Towers aim to put their cosmopolitan schedule back on track by earning a place in the NTL National Cup semi-finals at Aston Villa Leisure Centre tomorrow, when they face Manchester Giants in the first of four last-eight ties at the Birmingham venue.

Towers lost their unbeaten record in the BBL Championship to Thames Valley Tigers then crashed to their first Euroleague defeat in midweek by 102-76 at Verona in Italy.

"We have got to learn, we have got to fight, we have got to get tougher," their coach, Nick Nurse, said. "We will take what we can from it, which is a kind of a rough knock on the chin, but we will bounce back and get ready for the next one."

Once tomorrow's Cup game is out of the way against the club he led to the championship last season, Nurse will focus on three European fixtures in the next four days. Towers play Siauliai and Ventspils of Lithuania in Den Helder, the Netherlands, on Monday and Tuesday in the North European League, then face Budocnost of Yugoslavia in the Euroleague at Crystal Palace on Thursday.

While the Giants' coach, Andre Alleyne, does not have to worry about such a demanding schedule, he does have injury doubts for Julius Joseph and Brian Earl, while Martin Gottfried is definitely out.

Also in the Cup, London Leopards return to the venue where they beat Birmingham Bullets last weekend to face Newcastle Eagles, boosted by an impressive midweek win at Milton Keynes Lions.

Bullets enjoy home advantage in their tie with Leicester Riders, who have doubts over Freddie Cole and Karl Brown. In the final tie, Derby Storm face Thames Valley Tigers, who eliminated the holders Sheffield Sharks in the first round.

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