League on Shark alert

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Sheffield Sharks sat back on Thursday to watch two close rivals lose ground in the chase for the Budweiser League title, and must be believing that events are conspiring to help them towards the championship in their first season in the top flight, writes Duncan Hooper.

Defeats for Doncaster Panthers, 98-86 at Birmingham Bullets, and for Thames Valley Tigers by 89-79 at London Towers, left Sheffield six points clear with just six games to play.

Tonight Sheffield visit Leicester City Riders, who have suspended one of their best English players, Hilroy Thomas, for the rest of the season after his fight with Worthing Bears' Cleave Lewis. The American needed surgery on his broken jaw and missed Worthing's home defeat against the Sharks last weekend.

Tomorrow Sheffield are at home to London Leopards, still reeling from the two-year ban on their American player, DeCarlo Deveaux, and the two- game ban on their coach, Billy Mimms, after the recent brawl at Derby.

Worthing's season has taken another wrong turn with the sacking of their player-coach, Alan Cunningham, after he said the Bears did not match his expectations.