The Washington Metros and the Philadelphia Fox of the Women's Professional Basketball League folded yesterday, causing a realignment of the league and an immediate draft of the 24 players involved.

"Their operations ceased at noon today, their memberships were revoked, their offices have been closed and we've consolidated their players among the league," said Bill Eaton, that WBL's director of player development.

The move came after the league, which had been running the two franchises for months, was unsuccessful in finding new ownership for the teams.

"The league put a lot of money into the teams to keep them going, "Eaton said, estimating the WBL spent $70,000 on the Fox and $20,000 on the Metros. "We could have pulled them through the season, but our energies needed to be directed to all the teams, not just two."

The league now will be realigned into three divisions of four teams each, which the St. Louis Streak and the New Orleans Pride replacing Washington and Philadelphia in the Eastern Division. Previously, the league was comprised of three divisions, with five teams in the Midwest and West and four in the East.

Nat Frazier, the Metro president-coach who was also a minority owner in the original purchase last summer, could not be reached for comment; nor could any of the Metros.

Frazier and another partner, Gerry Lewis, were backed by six investors whom they and the league have refused to identify. But when Frazier and Lewis had a "falling out," according to Eaton, the other investors refused to put up any money.

All but six of the 24 players put on waivers yesterday were claimed and those six were with the Fox, Eaton said.