BASKETBALL: Bullets in frame for place in play-offs.
PERTEMPS BULLETS 93 BRIGHTON BEARS 91
THE Bullets are back on track, with their first win in four games recharging their bid for a place in the Play-off quarter-finals.
'We just needed the win,' said coach Lance Randall. 'That will put all the tiredness and injuries into the background.'
But it was close as the Bullets halted the three-game winning streak of the Bears - one of their rivals for a top-four finish in the Southern Conference.
It needed a Brant Bailey three-pointer, 20 seconds from time, to give Bullets the victory after they had wobbled in the final quarter.
Bullets held sway for the first three quarters, typically by seven or eight points, as Rashod Johnson steadily built a 20-point personal total.
A 9-2 Bears run cut Bullets lead to 77-74 and after Brighton went 85-84 ahead the lead changed six times before Bailey's three-pointer. Bailey added 19 points and John O'Connell 16.
O'Connell played despite his elbow injury and receiving an e-mail from owner Craig Bown - now on holiday in America - claiming the Irish international was in breach of contract for not disclosing his medical history.
The Bullets still face an uphill slog to qualify for the quarterfinals, and Randall knows his players must now build a winning sequence beginning with today's trip to Milton Keynes Lions.
Bullets have played seven fixtures fewer than the Lions, but they have to start transforming games in hand into wins to climb to a place in the top four. Bullets have won both their Championship games against Lions so far and victory this afternoon will give them the advantage in the four-game series should the teams finish level on points at the end of the season.
But player-coach Nigel Lloyd has changed his line-up since the earlier games, ditching his former Bullets' teammate Reggie Kirk and replacing him with high-scoring guard Jermaine Brown.
Randall said: 'He can give them a little more explosiveness and power. They play a steady half-court game but we'll want to play more up tempo. We'll have to rebound with them, but if we're healthy I think we'll be all right.'
The options are shrinking to claim a top four finish and a place in the last eight, with London Towers odds on to finish first and Brighton still strongly placed to take second, despite last night's defeat at Aston Villa.
That leaves Bullets, undermanned and stretched by injuries, in a dog fight with the Lions, Thames Valley Tigers and London Leopards to claim the two remaining places.
He is determined the players do not fall back on injuries as an excuse and they certainly put their aches and pains on the back-burner last night.
Other Bullets scorers: Rob Pater-nostro 14, Emiko Etete 10, Danny Craven 7 and 10 rebounds, Antonio Garcia 7 and 14 rebounds.
HERO... Brant Bailey
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)|
|Date:||Feb 10, 2002|
|Previous Article:||SPEEDWAY: SPEED KINGS BATTLE ON ICE.|
|Next Article:||CRICKET: Doull blast sparks rethink on tactics.|