NBA All-Star Luol Deng headlines Team GB basketball squad

 

NBA All-Star Luol Deng has been named to headline Great Britain's Olympic basketball squad.

The Chicago Bulls forward was today announced in a 12-man roster that also includes former New Orleans Hornets centre Pops Mensa-Bonsu.

As expected there was no place for Ben Gordon, who has yet to play for Britain despite being included in squads since 2008, after he failed to arrive at the recent training camp in Houston following his trade to the Charlotte Bobcats.

Deng's presence, however, will ensure Great Britain retain hope of qualifying out of a tough-looking Group B that includes 2006 world champions Spain.

The 27-year-old became the first British player to be named as an NBA All-Star this year and is looking forward to spearheading Team GB in just their second ever Olympic appearance.

"We have all worked very hard for this opportunity and to have the final 12 named is exciting," Deng said.

"The next few weeks will fly by and I can't wait to step on the court with my team-mates at the Games. We plan to make Great Britain proud."

After spending the past week at a camp in Loughborough Mensa-Bonsu, now at Turkish side Besiktas, added: "The experience at the holding camp in Loughborough has made us all realise that the Olympics are just around the corner.

"I am proud to be a member of this team and can't wait to represent my country on the largest stage."

Great Britain will open their Olympic campaign against an as-yet undecided qualifier on July 29 as they bid to reach the quarter-finals.

Chris Finch's side face a tough task of qualifying in the top four of a group that - in addition to world number two Spain - contains Australia (ninth), China (10th) and Brazil (13th).

Team GB did, however, beat the Chinese at the test event last year, and after qualifying for EuroBasket for the first time in 2009, they won their first matches at the tournament in beating Portugal and Poland.

"This has been an incredible journey so far for this team since 2006 and we are very pleased to announce our strongest ever team," performance director Chris Spice said.

"I would like to congratulate all those who have been selected and at the same time pay tribute to those players that have just missed out.

"It's only through building our depth that we can continue to compete at the highest levels of international basketball and I am hoping those who just missed this time around will be with us on the road to Rio."

Team GB basketball squad: Kieron Achara, Robert Archibald, Eric Boateng, Dan Clark, Luol Deng, Joel Freeland, Kyle Johnson, Andrew Lawrence, Mike Lenzly, Pops Mensa-Bonsu, Nate Reinking, Andrew Sullivan.

PA

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