Basketball: Bucknall returns

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STEVE BUCKNALL returns to his roots tonight, gracing the Crystal Palace NSC court he first played on as a junior when he wins his 73rd England cap in the European Championship semi-final round game against Belarus.

No Englishman will ever surpass Bucknall's CV, despite the achievement of his team-mate, John Amaechi, in being the first English player drafted to an NBA team, and the English-domiciled Michael Olowakandi's present position as the No 1 draft pick with the LA Clippers.

"Who could ever dream they'd achieve something like that," said Bucknall. "I was playing with the best players in the world when they were one of the best teams in the world."

He is one of nine Continental-based players in Laszlo Nemeth's squad for tonight's game, who have been squeezed out of England's salary-capped Budweiser League where clubs have up to five Americans.