GOLD DENG: The basketball star is pivotal to GB's cause
BRITISH BASKETBALL gave a collective sigh of relief on hearing the news that Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng has been cleared to compete for Great Britain at the European Championships later this month.
Deng’s participation had been in doubt due to NBA insurance hassles. But Great Britain announced yesterday Deng, 26, would be available to compete in his first ever EuroBasket in Lithuania.
The cost of insuring Deng, whose ongoing six-year Bulls contract is valued at $71 million, looked to prevent his involvement with the British team, but now that it has all been cleared up the 26-year-old is looking forward to pulling on the GB jersey.
“Playing for GB is always important to me so I’m really glad we could resolve this,” said the 6ft 9in Deng.
“It has been a long process but a great team effort. I can’t wait to join the team and prepare for Lithuania.”
British Basketball's Performance Director, Chris Spice, is hopeful that a deal can be struck to finalise insurance for Deng's GB team-mate and Detroit Pistons guard Ben Gordon within "48 hours."
Spice, who was keen to express his delight in Deng's inclusion, said: "It is great for basketball in Britain that Luol has signed up for our programme again this summer.
“He has always been a great supporter of the GB basketball programme and we are excited to have him on the court again this year after he played such a key role for us in qualifying last year.
“With Olympic tickets sold out it is fantastic that the British public will get to see Luol play in the Olympic Basketball Arena in the London International Basketball Invitational tournament in two weeks time.”