Basketball: Bucknall returns from exile

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STEVE BUCKNALL has ended his continental exile from the English basketball by joining London Towers for the Budweiser League season, which begins on 18 September.

Bucknall, the first Englishman ever to play in the NBA when the Los Angeles Lakers signed him 12 years ago, is returning for his fourth spell with English league clubs after originally playing for Crystal Palace Juniors.

After half a season with the Lakers, the 33-year-old Bucknall completed that season with Sunderland before playing in France and Germany in the early nineties. He played for Thames Valley Tigers in 1995 then filled a key role in Towers winning the League, League Trophy and National Cup the following year. He has spent the last two seasons playing in Greece and Italy.

The lure of playing in Europe helped bring Bucknall to the Towers, who are competing this season in the Saporta Cup, formerly the European Cup.

The Towers coach, Ron Abegglen, said: "Steve is probably the most experienced English guard of all time. His pedigree speaks for itself."

Leicester Riders have signed the American point guard Troy Coleman, who has spent two seasons in America's International Basketball Association.