Basketball: Disaster for England after Bucknall's early exit

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The Independent Online
England 61 Ukraine 88

England's attempt to reach the 1999 European finals, which began promisingly with last week's win in Denmark, stumbled alarmingly at Guilford Spectrum last night where a first-half injury to Steve Bucknall proved decisive.

Ukraine's first victory after home defeats against Spain and Israel was never in doubt once Bucknall hurt his hip after 10 minutes. Bucknall had led England's scorers with 23 points in their gallant defeat against group favourites Spain at Plymouth on Saturday, but he was unable to score before his injury last night.

Ukraine's 7ft Alexander Okunski dominated the inside play on his way to a game-high 18 points, one more than England's 6ft 10in John Amaechi.

Amaechi, who is considering offers from Budweiser League clubs after the Italian side Bologna paid up his contract last month, was the only England player into double figures, ahead of Roger Huggins on nine and Ronnie Baker on seven.

l Worthing Bears have strengthened their playing roster by signing the American point guard Joel Burns and the Canadian guard Greg Francis, subject to securing work permits.