England dominate Wales' airspace

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The Independent Online
England's opening game in the European Championships qualifying tournament at Birmingham's NEC was less intense than their recent training sessions and team meetings, but a 96-57 win over Wales last night gave them a confident push towards a place in November's semi-final round.

With England fielding six 6ft 8in-plus players at 6ft 8in or over, the undersized Welsh never made an impact. Gutsy Chris Horrocks, their smallest player at 6ft, led their scorers with 17 points. Peter Scantlebury, England's most capped international, led the scorers with 22 points, as Roger Huggins, Spencer Dunkley, Neville Austin and John Amaechi took turns in dominating the airspace.

Laszlo Nemeth, the England coach, heaped extra pressure on himself at the tournament by axing his most experienced playmaker, Karl Brown, and replacing him with 6ft 9in Trevor Gordon yet, on Monday night, Nemeth had described his decision to leave out Gordon as "the most difficult of my career".

When Nemeth went to break the news at a team meeting he discovered that Brown was not in attendance and promptly ditched the London Leopards player and reinstated Gordon.

Nemeth is already feeling under enough pressure. Knowing England must finish in the top three to qualify for the semi-final round he has a letter of resignation ready to post if the team fail.

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP Qualifying round (Birmingham): England 96 (Scantlebury 22) Wales 57 (Horrocks 17). Denmark 95 (Hjort 15) Luxembourg 75 (Feyder 21), Poland 91 (Wojcik 19) Georgia 68 (Natsvlishvili 21).