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Page last updated at 17:59 GMT, Saturday, 30 August 2008 18:59 UK

GB's Deng cleared to face Israel

Luol Deng
Deng recently re-signed with the Bulls in the NBA

Luol Deng has been cleared to play in Great Britain's opening European qualifier against Israel after British Basketball met insurance demands.

The Chicago Bulls star had been in danger of missing Wednesday's match due to American demands for extra cover.

Deng will boost Chris Finch's side, who managed to overcome Portual 80-79 in a close warm-up game in Turkey.

Pops Mensah-Bonsu scored 21 points and blocked a shot with six seconds left to seal Britain's second win in two days.

Deng's presence will help Britain cover for the loss of 7ft 1in centre Andrew Betts, who will miss the game against Israel because of a persistent back injury.

Performance director Chris Spice said they had no option but to agree to the extra insurance demands, which will cost in the region of 200,000 for the six qualifying matches.

"We see no medical reason why the NBA insurers have demanded this new element to Luol's insurance," he said.

"Their demand came so late and out of the blue, we have had no choice.

Luol Deng
Deng lends his expertise to some local youngsters in London

"We cannot say how this problem will affect his participation in future years but hope that the American parties will acknowledge the medical situation as we believe it to be and change their demands.

"For 2008, we are convinced that this is the best outcome for British Basketball, is the best use of our funds in the circumstances and highlights our commitment to make Great Britain one of the top basketball nations in the world by 2012."

GB must prove themselves competitive at European level to secure a host's spot at the London Olympics.

Great Britain beat Bosnia 100-98 with 21 points from Nate Reinking and 20 from Pops Mensah-Bonsu in their second match in the prestigious Efes Pilsen World Cup tournament in Turkey on Friday.

The Bulls had cleared Deng's cover internally but it is believed they brought in external advisers to vet the policy.

Deng's 38m, six-year contract with the Chicago Bulls, signed in July, triggered a clause in the NBA's insurance contract that allowed the company concerned to veto Deng's participation in the GB programme this summer.

The insurance company cited scans of a back injury suffered by Deng last season as the motive for refusing cover.

606: DEBATE

As a result, he has been prevented from training or playing with the team in any of this summer's warm-up matches.

BBC Sport understands that NBA officials were under the impression that GB could claim an automatic spot in the 2012 Games as hosts.

That came to light during discussions between the NBA and Fiba, the world governing body for basketball, at the Beijing Olympics.

The presence of Deng could make the difference between GB qualifying for next year's EuroBasket finals in Poland and teetering on the brink of relegation back to European Division B.

Last season, Deng averaged 25 points per game in a GB shirt and was the standout player in Division B.

Relegation would mean Great Britain cannot qualify for the 2011 finals and would almost certainly deal the death blow to hopes of appearing at the 2012 Olympics.

see also
GB receive blow over Deng hopes
29 Aug 08 |  Basketball
Deng believes Britain can qualify
10 Aug 08 |  Basketball
Deng agrees 40m Chicago contract
30 Jul 08 |  Basketball
NBA duo given GB training places
05 Jun 08 |  Basketball


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