Basketball: England lose twice to coach's country

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The Independent Online

England's preparations for this week's European Championship fixtures against Russia and Portugal made a low key start when coach Laszlo Nemeth's depleted squad suffered two defeats against his native Hungary. Nemeth, resigned to the logistical problems posed by drawing his players from six continental nations, saw his team lose 75-61 on Saturday night at Burgess Hill and 73-60 yesterday at Crystal Palace.

Andy Betts (Greece), Tony Dorsey (France), Chris Haslam (Germany), Steve Hansell (Spain) and Delme Herriman (Holland) missed Saturday night's defeat, when Newcastle's Ian Whyte, 11 points, and Belgium-based Andy Gardiner, with 12, led England's scorers.

Only Dorsey was still missing yesterday as he was due to play for his French club, Cholet, last night and joins the team in Birmingham today. But Betts, Haslam and Hansell felt unable to play after arriving in the country only shortly before the game, while Betts also rested a hand injury ahead of Wednesday's game against Russia at Coventry's Skydome.

On Saturday England, currently in a potentially qualifying third place, complete this season's fixtures away to Portugal.

* Michael Jordan, who led Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles in the 1990s, scored 16 points on his return as his Washington Wizards side beat the Bulls 77-69. It was his first appearance in Chicago since Game Five of the 1998 NBA Finals.