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Basketball: Little rest for England in Games preparation

Despite the British Basketball League shutting down for a week, England's senior men can cram in only a short Christmas break before leaving for Belgrade on Tuesday to play three club sides as part of their preparation for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia in March.

The England coach Peter Scantlebury has selected a 17-man squad, although two are not travelling to Belgrade, and must name his final 12 early next month ahead of two final training camps before leaving for Australia in March.

Scantlebury has included Newcastle Eagles' American playmaker TJ Walker, who will qualify for the team if his British passport application is approved. Scantlebury also omitted veteran English playmaker Ronnie Baker, England's most-capped international.

With the Games timed as the BBL season reaches its climax, Scantlebury's squad will inevitably affect the league run-in, perhaps most of all for Newcastle who have five players in the 17, although if Walker receives his passport, Newcastle pair Perry Bridge and Andrew Lawson may both miss out.