Finger refuses to press panic button
With two players exiting the side door at Peugeot Bullets Birmingham on Christmas Eve and only five fit players available during the team's victorious contest against Leicester, coach Mike Finger did the honest thing. He went before the Bullets fans and talked it over, explaining what was happening and why.
While his team has been plagued by internal friction this year, Finger has refused to panic and losing Chuck Guittar and Mark Considine may even prove a blessing in disguise if the affable American can lead the club back to Wembley again. Nonetheless, the sudden loss of a key player like Guittar was not something which Finger enjoyed.
"It was disappointing and I was disappointed in Chuck because he could have had a good career in the league. For it not to work out I felt was unfortunate for him and for us. It was a little bit untimely because it all happened at once and I hadn't expected it to happen."
The other player whose days at the club might be numbered is perennial All-Star Mark Robinson, his season currently curtailed due to a thumb injury. The former Manchester and Sheffield man has not lived up to expectations since joining the team in the summer. Despite his guaranteed contract, might Robinson be the next Bullet to be shown the door ?
"He is still a member of the Bullets but he is injured," said Finger. "I can't say much more about that situation right now. Until we get some replacements, his absence will hinder us. Going in this league with five players is very very difficult."
"We're very actively searching for some replacements for Mark and Chuck. That takes a little bit of time but until then, we're down to five which is a long way from the ideal. The guys I have out there are unbelievable competitors and I have nothing but confidence in them."
"We're looking both at players who have been in this league and some players who haven't. It will be boil down to the same things it always does. One are they any good, two do they want to come and play here and three money is always a factor."
One name sure to figure is HL Coleman, who enjoyed such a positive season at the club just now. Despite the forward's current spell in US minor league basketball, Finger admits he will be giving Coleman a call.
Having achieved success in his first year as a head coach, Finger has now to make some tough decisions about what to do next. With the club in the hands of the Basketball League, his early Christmas gift was an unexpected one and he admits that it is a testing time .
"Last week was certainly the most challenging part of my career at Birmingham and that's why our performance against Leicester was so rewarding, in the way the guys responded to the adverse situation. It was very inspirational to me personally."
"The League have been very supportive of everything since they took over. They've given me the decision making power that I feel I need to run the team and the financial backing to obtain replacements. I have nothing but praise for my relationship with them so far."
With the club on a high off the court right now, there seems little doubt that Finger's actions will play a key role in keeping the organisation's success on track. A big responsibility rests on his chequebook as 1999 dawns.
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