NEW YORK (NBA/Olympics) - British basketball has improved a lot in recent years. After winning two games and finishing 13th at last year’s EuroBasket in Lithuania, Great Britain's men's team will have another opportunity to show the world their progress when they host this summer's Olympic Games.
Thanks to some talented players such as Joel Freeland (Unicaja Malaga) and Pops Mensah-Bonsu (Besiktas Milangaz) as well as the much-anticipated impact of new face Ben Gordon (Detroit Pistons), the GB team could prove to be a tough opponent to beat in London.
Having made his senior national team debut in 2007, Luol Deng will once again be captain of this promising young squad.
In his eighth NBA season, the South Sudan native showed everyone that he’s one of the best players in the league.
Despite the surprise elimination of the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs, the 27-year-old had his best NBA season and consequently was selected to play in his first All-Star Game.
"We had the best record in the regular season, but we were not able to play well during the playoffs. Derrick Rose’s injury was very detrimental to the team. It’s a huge disappointment for all of us, but we need to look forward," Deng told Fiba.com.
"Personally, I think that I’ve had a great season and the All-Star Game selection was an accomplishment of years and years of hard work."
"But I know that I still have to improve some aspects of my game to be the best player I can be."
Dealing with a torn ligament in his left wrist since January, Deng played through the pain for most of the season.
"It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my career so far. It’s been hard, but I’m proud to have pushed my limits," he added.
Still undecided about whether or not he’ll need to have surgery to treat his injury, Deng is clear about his post-season schedule.
“I still don’t know if I’ll need a surgery. It will depend on how my wrist feels in the next few weeks. But right now, my mind is only focused on the Olympics,” he said.
British basketball’s flag-bearer can’t wait to participate in London’s competition.
“I’m looking forward to playing in the Olympics. I’m so excited to take part in this competition; I’ve been dreaming about it since I was a young kid,” he admitted.
“It will be fantastic to play at home, in front of our own fans.”
Deng knows all too well that with the whole world watching, the Olympics can serve as the perfect platform for Team GB to show the huge strides they have made and prove there is more to come from them.
“My teammates and I will do our best. We’ll show that our basketball team has a great future,” he said.