Basketball: Feelings in England camp reach crisis point

THE breakdown in relations between the England men's team and their masters at the English Basketball Association reduced Saturday night's 82-68 European Championship defeat of Isreal in Manchester to a side-show.

Roger Huggins set the tone for what the Association will face in next season's five return fixtures in the group by refusing to play. "He's had enough," Laszlo Nemeth, the coach, said. "I told him I understood, but he was hurting the team."

Huggins and his team-mates were left to exist on Pot Noodles and chocolate biscuits during last week's trip to Belarus, which resulted in a 60-55 win, because the Association could not afford alternative food to the substandard local offerings.

Steve Catton, the Association's chief executive, severely criticised the team for publicly complaining and was wisely kept away from Saturday's post-game press conference. But he did not escape a stinging blast from Nemeth. "I am always met with complete politeness and complete ignorance."

He added: "I am up against someone who has no idea or experience of basketball", referring to Catton's previous post with the English Hockey Association.

The Association's chairman, Peter Knowles, said: "We have to move to discussions quickly. We cannot allow this to fester."

But also festering in Nemeth's mind is domestic basketball's domination by American imports, who can fill up to five spots in each team in the Budweiser League and restrict the court time of English players, which he needs for the national team. "English players either get lost or get cut," Nemeth said. "Basketball has been sold out to the entertainment industry."