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Page last updated at 10:11 GMT, Friday, 7 May 2010 11:11 UK

Detroit Pistons star Ben Gordon to make GB debut

Ben Gordon
Gordon joined the Pistons from Chicago last summer

NBA star Ben Gordon is to make a long-awaited Great Britain debut in this summer's European qualifying campaign.

Detroit Pistons guard Gordon, 27, was born in London but moved to the United States when he was a baby.

He will line-up alongside former Chicago Bulls team-mate Luol Deng for the eight-game campaign in August.

Gordon has been courted by GB for four years but made himself unavailable while securing a multi-million dollar move from Chicago to Detroit.

"It's something that I've definitely always wanted to be a part of," Gordon told BBC Sport. "I've always wanted to play since the first time it was brought to me, especially when it came from Luol, who was my team-mate at the time.

"It's an opportunity to represent the country where I was born. That was what drew me to it and this summer just happens to be the right time. Everything has just lined up for me to make that commitment and I've been able to actually focus on it.

"I'm looking forward to it. It will make for a unique and enjoyable experience for myself and the fans in Britain.

"I have heard a lot from Luol about the team and where we are going, so I am excited about the prospect of pulling on the GB vest."

I truly believe we are pulling together a very talented roster of players

GB coach Chris Finch

Gordon was named in the GB squad for last year's EuroBasket tournament but withdrew, having just secured a contract with the Pistons, worth about about £34.2m over five years.

In the absence of Gordon and Deng - who had a leg injury - GB lost all three games in Poland, albeit against top-level opposition, and failed to qualify for the second round.

As they failed to reach the final rounds in Poland, Great Britain missed out on qualifying for the World Championships, which take place in Turkey in September.

Instead, they will join Group B of European qualifying, with games home and away against Bosnia-Hercegovina, Hungary, Macedonia and Ukraine.

The teams placed first in each group and the two best second placed teams will qualify for the EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania and there is a further qualifying round next August.

World governing body Fiba has said Great Britain must prove themselves in order to gain a 2012 Olympic spot but has not made exact criteria public.

GB coach Chris Finch is delighted at the prospect of adding Gordon to a talented group of players, as they look to further their claims to a place in London 2012.

"He will bring considerable experience to the group," he said. "Over the last few years with the Bulls and more recently the Pistons, he has excelled in the NBA.

"We have always been aware of this desire to play for the team, but unfortunately things didn't quite come together, however this year everything has worked out.

"The inclusion of Ben is just another great example of the progress British Basketball has been making in the last few years, and I truly believe we are pulling together a very talented roster of players."

The announcement of Gordon's involvement came as tickets went on sale for the home games, including double-headers with the GB women's team in Birmingham on 14 August and in Liverpool 12 days later.

Finch has named a 21-man squad but is expecting 16 players from the group to attend training camp in July.

The one player missing from last summer's EuroBasket squad in Poland is 7ft 1in centre Andrew Betts, who will spend the summer resting his injury-prone back.

"We will certainly miss Andy, particularly his leadership," Finch told BBC Sport. "His absence makes the inclusion of Rob, Pops and Joel all the more crucial."

606: DEBATE

Betts has not ruled out a return to national team duty and has wished the team the best of luck. "I've seen the team and I think they'll have no problem qualifying," he said.

The addition of the Glasgow Rocks' Robert Yanders gives the squad a second naturalised player in addition to Nate Reinking, a near ever-present in the team over the past four years.

Only one of the two would be able to play in the qualifiers under Fiba's regulations, however. The addition of the American-born Yanders suggests Finch may be considering strengthening the point guard position.

"As you know we have been unsettled at the point guard spot so we are looking at all options," said Finch. "The inclusion of Rob allows us to properly evaluate a newly available player to our programme while also possibly filling a need."

GB's Pops Mensah-Bonsu is challenged by Serbia's Nemanja Bjelica

Highlights - Serbia end GB's Euro challenge

Full GB squad:

Kieron Achara (Angelico Biella, Italy), Robert Archibald (Unicaja Malaga, Spain), Eric Boateng (Arizona State University, USA), Flinder Boyd (Ourense, Spain), Matthew Bryan-Amaning (University of Washington, USA), Dan Clark (Estudiantes, Spain), Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls, USA), Jermaine Forbes (Nyon, Switzerland), Joel Freeland (Unicaja Malaga, Spain), Nick George (Fastweb Casale, Italy), Ben Gordon (Detroit Pistons, USA), Jarrett Hart (Keravnos Nicosia, Cyprus) Flo Larkai (Hamamatsu Phoenix, Japan), Mike Lenzly (CEZ Nymburk, Czech Republic), Pops Mensah-Bonsu (CSKA Moscow, Russia), Nate Reinking (Mons Hainaut, Belgium), Justin Robinson (Rider University, USA), Andrew Sullivan (Newcastle Eagles, England), Tafari Toney (Sheffield Sharks, England), Devon Van Oostrum (CJ Vitoria, Spain), Rob Yanders (Glasgow Rocks, Scotland)

Full list of GB's European Championships qualifying fixtures:

Men

Hungary v GB, 2 August (Szolnok)
GB v Macedonia, 8 August at Northumbria University, Newcastle
Bosnia-Hercegovina v GB, 11 August (venue tbc)
GB v Ukraine, 14 August at Birmingham NIA
GB v Hungary, 17 August at Birmingham NIA
Macedonia v GB, 23 August (venue tbc)
GB v Bosnia-Hercegovina, 26 August at Liverpool Echo Arena
Ukraine v GB, 29 August (Dnipropetrovsk)

Women

GB v Slovakia, 14 August at Birmingham NIA
Germany v GB, 17 August (venue tbc)
GB v Ukraine, 20 August at Surrey University
Slovakia v GB, 23 August (venue tbc)
GB v Germany, 26 August at Liverpool Echo Arena
Ukraine v GB, 29 August (Dnipropetrovsk)



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see also
GB teams plan Euro double-headers
08 Apr 10 |  Basketball
Coach calls for GB trio to commit
14 Feb 10 |  Basketball
GB overlooked for Worlds wildcard
12 Dec 09 |  Basketball
Gordon committed to British cause
10 Sep 09 |  Basketball
Serbia defeat ends GB challenge
09 Sep 09 |  Basketball
Aussie Maher will coach GB women
11 May 09 |  Basketball
GB women 'still working for 2012'
22 Jan 09 |  Basketball
Gordon's NBA move boosts GB hopes
09 Jul 09 |  Basketball


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