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EBL Weekend Preview

10 February 2005
Sheffield, England

With leaders City of Sheffield Arrows having a weekend off, the London
United vs. Reading Rockets game takes centre stage on Sunday.

The two sides met at Reading last week, and with Mantia Callender
scoring 24 points, the visitors returned home with a 94-87 victory.

That win should guarantee United a place in the top two, but they will
host Rockets again on Sunday knowing that another win is vital if they
are to retain any chance of piping Arrows for the title.

Even though their chances of lifting the EBL Division One title
effectively ended on Sunday, Matt Johnson's Rockets still need to pick
up the victory to ensure home-court advantage in the play-offs.

Elsewhere, there are two other games involving sides desperate for
home-court advantage. Fourth takes on fifth at the Amaechi Centre on
Saturday as Manchester Magic host Worcester Wolves. Fifth placed Wolves have moved steadily up the table in recent weeks despite the controversy regarding their withdrawal from the National Trophy, hammering Worthing Thunder last week, and will fancy their chances against a Magic team who are on a poor run at the moment.

Thunder desperately to start winning again as they have slipped down to seventh in the table, and will hope to send Teesside home on the longest journey in the EBL when the two meet at the Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday.

The two sides met at Teesside in November, with the Mohawks running out 97-89 winners.

Having seen Essex & Herts Leopards, who are also without a game, open a two win gap in the race for the final play-off spot, London Capitals and Solent Stars will go into Saturday's games against relegation threatened teams knowing a win is vital - both for their chances of post-season play and to stave off any lingering threat of the drop.

Solent travel to basement side Kingston looking to repeat the 77-62 win
they recorded against the Wildcats in October, while Capitals host a
Coventry Crusaders team they have already beaten 78-71 in the Midlands.

There's little doubt which game is clash of the weekend in the Women's
Division One, as leaders Rhondda Rebels host second placed Sheffield

The two sides have already met twice this season, with the Welsh team
coming out on top on both occasions.

The league game at Hatters' EIS home proved to be a thriller as Rebels
limited the hosts to just three points in overtime to run out 85-72

Rebels also lifted the Women's National Cup, with a 78-63 win against
Sheffield - although the game was a lot closer than the score line

Defeat for Hatters would leave them needing Rhondda to lose at least
three of three remaining six league games - an unlikely scenario given
that Rebels have won all 11 games so far by an average of 40 points

Solent Stars go into this weekend's clash with sixth placed Stockport
knowing that they must keep winning if they are to keep us their
challenge for a top four position in the league. "To finish in the top
four was our goal at the beginning of the season which would give us
home court advantage in the first round of the play-offs" commented
coach Michael Ball. "As can be seen from the points scored for and
against columns in the league table our defence has been reasonably
solid and we must continue to strive to become the best defensive team
in the country - this is the foundation of our team.

"However we know that in order to consistently win we need to improve
our offensive production."

Stars will need to bring all their scoring ability with them for this
weekend's game. Solent were very fortunate to escape their away
encounter at Stockport with a narrow 67-66 victory.

Source: EB/Dave Ryan

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