England's first competitive steps in preparation for next year's Commonwealth Games in Australia began with a 65-53 victory against Scotland last night in the opening game of the tri-nation Spuerkess Cup in Luxembourg.
England built their win on a resolute defensive performance, inspired by Fab Flournoy and Rod Wellington, while Nate Reinking led their scorers with 18 points. Julius Joseph added 12 with Flournoy and Wellington contributing nine each.
The England coach Peter Scantlebury, who was forced to take only 11 players after Robert Youngblood withdrew before the team met on Tuesday, said: "I'm pleased overall, particularly with our defence which was excellent in the second half. We made too many unforced errors on offence, but that's what comes with a team that's been together only a couple of days.
"Scotland played a zone and although we got the ball inside their defence OK, we didn't finish well, missing lay-ups and short jump shots."
The Commonwealth Games are in March next year, and England's foreign-based players will not be released during the club season, so Scantlebury must build his team on home-based players, but will also include one naturalised American.
Flournoy, the Newcastle Eagles player-coach, and Reinking, from Scantlebury's Sheffield Sharks, both fall into that category, so Scantlebury is using the Spuerkess Cup's relaxed eligibility rules to look at both.
He said: "Fab's pressure on their guards was intense and he made a lot happen for us, and Nate shot the ball well." Scotland's new star, American-based Keiron Acahara, was shut out by England in the last game.
England face Scotland at 4pm today and Luxembourg four hours later.Reuse content