Royals struggling to end 16-match slump

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Hemel and Watford Royals chase their first Budweiser League win of the season live on satellite TV tomorrow night, against a Crystal Palace team that will be under strength despite giving a debut to their new American, Paul Grant.

Grant, a 23-year-old point guard, replaces his sacked countryman Tim Garrett, and Palace will be without another American, Anthony Joseph, who has returned to New York for family reasons. Grant, who was signed on Thursday, averaged 13 points and three assists per game for Baltimore's Morgan State University last season, to be the leading scorer on his team.

Palace go into the game with one American against a Hemel team who, despite a full quota of five, have suffered 16 successive defeats in League, Trophy and National Cup.

"It's official, we're in a slump," Vince Razaq, the Royals owner and coach, said. On paper his team face an even tougher task than when Palace beat them 101-93 in the Trophy in October, before the London club had signed any Americans or the England centre Jason Crump.

Palace could be further strengthened soon after inviting the American Edwin Harmon to join them this weekend for a trial from the Irish League.