Missing Magic sends Bullets back to Villa.
A TOUCH of 'Magic' has gone out of Pertemps Bullets' North European Basketball League campaign and the club have abandoned plans to play their fixture with the Great Danes at the NEC.
Bullets planned to move the fixture from Aston Villa to the larger venue because they were flooded with ticket applications from fans who wanted to see basketball legend Earvin 'Magic' Johnson play for the Danish club he part owns.
But former Los Angeles Laker Johnson has not left America since the terrorist attacks on September 11 and the club accept there is little chance he will travel to Europe to join up with his club.
A Bullets spokesman said: 'There is no guarantee that Johnson will play against us for the Great Danes on December 8 and the game has been moved back to Aston Villa.'
Bullets, with three wins out of three, have slipped from top spot in Group A of the NEBL, but along with Ventspils of Latvia and Stockholm are one of only three unbeaten teams in their section.
Go Pepinster of Belgium, including former Bullet Chris Haslam, have moved top with four wins from five games and are Bullets' final NEBL opponents on Wednesday December 19.
Haslam, the 6ft 10ins centre, is one of three former Bullets in the England squad for the European Championship games later this month.
Tony Dorsey, now with Cholet in France, and Steve Hansell, with San Fernando in Spain, are also in the party to play in Italy on November 21, against Slovenia at Coventry's Skydome on the 24th and the Czech Republic away on the 28th.
Bullets escaped with a 67-66 win over Edinburgh Rocks in the quarter-finals of the ntl National Cup last Sunday, when a two-pointer from Rashod Johnson seven seconds from time earned a semi-final against Sheffield Sharks at Coventry on December 2.
Bullets opened their eight-game, 13-day tour of American colleges with a 108-85 defeat against the University of Florida in front of 6,111 fans at the Stephen O'Connell Center on Tuesday night.
Bullets trailed 12-0 from the tip, but in trailing 53-45 at half-time scored the second highest ever total in the first half against the Gators in an exhibition game.
Brant Bailey led Bullets' scorers with 27 points ahead of 22 from Rob Paternostro. Other Bullets scorers were O'Connell 10, Walker 10, Johnson 11 and Etete 5.
Bullets' Lance Randall has been nominated for the Nurishment Coach of the Month Award for September/October. Fans are urged to support him by voting at www.bbl.org.uk/nurishment.
FLYING HIGH... Chris Haslam
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|Publication:||Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)|
|Date:||Nov 4, 2001|
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