Leopards hold key to title: Basketball

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The Independent Online
The crunch? Maybe. The penultimate weekend of the Budweiser League season still shows the top five theoretically capable of taking the title, although, aptly for this holiday weekend, London Towers and Chester Jets need a string of miracles to stay in the hunt, writes Richard Taylor.

The Leopards, Birmingham Bullets and Sheffield Sharks hold the top three places, but unless the London Arena-based Leopards win both this weekend's games, at Birmingham tonight and at home to Derby Storm tomorrow, the title could still be on the line for next weekend's final matches.

After seeing his team survive overtime to beat Newcastle Eagles in midweek, Nick Nurse, the Birmingham coach, is expecting another close encounter. "It could well come down to which team's got the ball in their hands for the final play," he said.

Crucially, the three-game League series between the Leopards and the Bullets is level at 1-1, so tonight's victors will have the advantage, should the teams finish in a tie at the end of the season.

The Bullets travel to Chester tomorrow, while the Sharks face a hazardous visit from Thames Valley. The 10th-placed Tigers are attempting to earn the final spot in the play-off quarter-finals after Thursday's 108-93 win over Leicester City Riders. Derby can also finish eighth, while Manchester Giants and Newcastle are certain of finishing sixth and seventh.