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Russia breeze past England

England's hopes of making Euro 2003 suffered a setback in Coventry on Wednesday when the hosts were beaten 80-51 by Russia.

The English however capitulated after a bright start, held to only 11 points in the second half as the Russians remained top of the group.

England were leading 40-39 at half-time but allowed veteran Sergei Panov's rapid scoring burst to guide the visitors to a 62-46 lead going into the fourth quarter as Laszlo Nemeth's men dried up.

"There wasn't anything that was said at half-time, no tirades or shouting," a disappointed Nemeth said. "We just couldn't score and didn't play well."

Panov ended as the game's top scorer with 18 points while Tony Dorsey and Andy Betts responded with 12 each for England.

Elsewhere, Italy suffered their first loss with an 84-78 reverse in Slovenia while the Czech Republic took a 65-88 win in Portugal.

England now have to beat the Portugese on Saturday in the Azores to keep alive their hopes of finishing third in Group E and reaching the championships in Sweden.

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