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Last Updated: Friday, 4 May 2007, 09:56 GMT 10:56 UK
Deng aims to boost GB basketball
Luol Deng
Deng is a huge star in Chicago and will lift GB's prospects
Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng hopes to raise British basketball's profile and inspire a new generation of players by starring for the national team.

Sudan-born Deng won his first GB call-up this week and is also making waves in the USA in the NBA play-offs.

"I'm hoping basketball can get more attention. Players are working hard at it and the recognition will come. The profile will rise," he said.

"In the future, Britain will have more than two or three players in the NBA."

British basketball is working hard to build its profile ahead of the 2012 Olympics in London.

GB coach Chris Finch has pencilled in Deng to play his first games this summer against Slovakia, Holland and Belarus, and he is set to be joined in those games by Dallas Mavericks forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu.

In addition, London will be treated to a visit from the Boston Celtics and the Minnesota Timberwolves in September as part of the NBA's Europe Live initiative.

I can't wait for the day I get to pull on the GB jersey - it's going to be amazing

Luol Deng

Deng is a little disappointed that his Chicago side are not the ones flying across the Atlantic to spread the NBA word.

"I really wish it could be the Bulls. It's really exciting that it's going to London. It's great for the fans who will get to see some of the best athletes perform," he said.

But the 22-year-old, who grew up in London after his father sought political asylum in the UK in 1993, knows he will have plenty of opportunity to dazzle the British public.

"I'm very excited about the Great Britain team. I get to play with a lot of guys I grew up with," said Deng.

"When I was young, I was playing for England youth teams and when I was 16, I was called up for Great Britain but couldn't play because of other commitments.

"But I started to play basketball in England and I had no doubt that I wanted to play for them. I can't wait for the day I get to pull on the jersey. It's going to be amazing."

  • To cap a breakthrough year with the Bulls, Deng has been presented with the NBA's Sportsmanship Award for the 2006-07 season.



    SEE ALSO
    Deng included in strong GB squad
    01 May 07 |  Basketball
    Chicago knock out champions Miami
    30 Apr 07 |  Basketball


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