England ease into semi-final

Basketball

England guaranteed their place in next season's semi-final round of the European Championship, alongside the continent's leading nations, with an 85-63 victory over Switzerland on Saturday night in the qualifying tournament in Pezinok, Slovakia.

England had to wait six minutes before they took the lead for the first time at 10-9, but they never trailed again. Steve Bucknall scored 19 points in the first half out, of a personal total of 25, as England went 41-28 ahead at the interval.

England then scored the first eight points of the second period to make the game safe. Bucknall was the leading scorer, supported by Roger Huggins, with 22 points, and Delme Herriman with 10 points.

The win, coming after the 108-63 victory over Luxembourg on Friday, secured one of the two qualifying places. England played Slovakia, the hosts, in last night's final game.

Laszlo Nemeth's three-year contract as England coach expires this week, but the English Association are not advertising for a replacement, leaving the way clear for the Hungarian to lead the team into the semi- final round. England will be drawn in a group of six nations playing five home and five away games over the next two seasons.

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