Basketball: Scantlebury's men face up to sterner tests in Portugal

England's preparations for next year's Commonwealth Games in Australia step up a gear in Lisbon tonight, where England play the first of three internationals against Portugal on successive evenings.

England's preparations for next year's Commonwealth Games in Australia step up a gear in Lisbon tonight, where England play the first of three internationals against Portugal on successive evenings.

The coach Peter Scantlebury has made three changes from the squad that won four games, two each against Luxembourg and Scotland, last month by bringing Germayne Forbes, Delme Herriman and Junior Williams into a 14-man squad.

Scantlebury said: "The tournament in Luxembourg was good all round in building team spirit as well as for the results. Our performances improved as players became used to our systems and that was reflected in the results. It's a question of moving on from that in Lisbon."

The team have been based at the Rio Major Olympic training centre 30 miles west of Lisbonin the build-up to tonight's game, the first international against Portugal since England beat them 92-84 in Birmingham two years ago.

But while Scantlebury focuses on team-building for the Commonwealth Games in nine months' time, he has one eye on rebuilding his Sheffield Sharks club side for the new BBL season in October after losing his leading player Nate Reinking to the Belgian club Bree.

Reinking is joining two other former Sharks, Roger Huggins and Travis Conlan, and the former Sharks coach Chris Finch at the Belgian club.

Scantlebury said: "It's a blow losing Nate on the club front. We knew he'd had an offer from Bree and if we could have matched it he would have stayed with us.

"But we couldn't offer him the same deal. Pro basketball players have a short career and they have to make the best of it."

Michael New, a BBL veteran who played for Leicester Riders last season, has signed for the French Pro-B club Golberg-Epinal.

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