Basketball: Infusion of Youngblood invigorates Nemeth

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The Independent Online
TWO OF the Budweiser League's leading American players, Tony Dorsey and Robert Youngblood, will be eligible to play for the England national team next season following this week's decision by the International Basketball Federation to lift qualification period restrictions on naturalised players. Players who obtained naturalisation previously had to undergo a three- year waiting period before they could play for the national team.

Youngblood, who plays for Greater London Leopards, has a British passport and Dorsey, on the Manchester Giants roster, expects to obtain his this summer. The sudden availability of the pair will be a great fillip to the England coach, Lazlo Nemeth. Mark Robinson, who began the season with Birmingham Bullets before playing briefly in Ireland, also has a British passport but seems a less likely choice.

Dorsey, from Atlanta, was the League's second-highest scorer last season and has been an All Star since arriving in England in 1995. Youngblood, from Tuskagee, Alabama, is the Leopards' captain and another regular All Star since arriving in 1994.

None of the three are in the squads announced yesterday by Nemeth for tournaments in Ireland, Hungary and Poland over the next five weeks. But he will be able to select one naturalised player when England begin their next European championship semi-final round group in the autumn.

Nemeth's squad includes Derby Storm's Yorick Williams who was banned for the last third of the season following the brawl at Chester Jets. Also included is the former Brixton Junior Kojo Bonsu, who is at college at Washington State, where he started 29 games and averaged 13 points and six rebounds while playing 31 minutes per game.

Andrew Sullivan, 18 years old and 6ft 8in, a power forward who begins his American collegiate career at Villanova next year, is rated among the top 50 prospects in college basketball's incoming freshman class.

ENGLAND SQUAD (for 1999-2000, from): R Baker, Y Williams, S Bucknall, D Herriman, A Betts, S Cheung, I Whyte, R Huggins, C Haslam, S Hansell, J Amaechi, A Sullivan, K Bonsu, B Balser, M Gottfried, B Baum.