Wembley beckons for Bears

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The Independent Online
Alan Cunningham claimed he had "a terrible night", but his Worthing Bears' 85-81 win at Thames Valley Tigers on Saturday night was a record ninth consecutive appearance in a Budweiser League play-off finals for the veteran player-coach.

Now, Wembley beckons again and Cunningham will play his last games there for Worthing in two weeks time after the Bears knocked the Tigers out of the play-offs to win their quarter-final series 2-1.

"We should have put them out last Wednesday," said Cunningham, when Tigers survived overtime to take the series to a third game. "It turned out to be a dress rehearsal," added Cunningham, who is leaving Worthing after Wembley "to look for a new challenge''.

"I had a terrible shooting night on Saturday, but Colin [Irish] and Steve [Nelson] played blinders," Cunningham said. Irish, who could replace Cunningham as player-coach next season, scored 20 points in the first-half and then four of the Bears' last five.

Nelson, sacked by Tigers earlier in the season before returning to his former club, hit five consecutive three-pointers in the third quarter.

Sheffield Sharks, the League champions, forced to a third game by eighth- placed Birmingham Bullets, reached Wembley with a 71-67 victory at Ponds Forge last night, after trailing by 10 points early in the second half.

Sheffield and Worthing join Manchester Giants at Wembley, with the final place to be settled by Thursday's third game between London Towers and London Leopards.

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