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Page last updated at 17:40 GMT, Thursday, 22 July 2010 18:40 UK

GB basketball squad welcomes NBA star Luol Deng

By Rob Dugdale

Luol Deng
Deng was selected in the 2004 NBA draft by Chicago

Luol Deng has joined up with the Great Britain squad after resolving issues over insurance and his NBA contract.

It had been feared that Deng would have to sit out some or all of GB's European Championship qualifying campaign that begins on 2 August.

But the Chicago Bulls star said: "It's all cleared, everything is set up.

"It's just going to take me a week or so to get in shape as I've been in Africa [on family business] and I need a few days to get back to playing."

Deng, 25, signed a contract worth £46m with the Bulls in 2008, and insuring him has been an issue in the past for GB.

The terms of this year's insurance deal preclude Deng from playing in any of the team's four upcoming friendly games, the first of which comes against Finland on Friday. He will, however, be allowed to train with the team.

I think I'll get my rhythm with the team more from practice than from playing 10 minutes in a game

Loul Deng

Deng told BBC Sport that he will also need those sessions to recover his edge.

"I'm going to use practice to get into shape for those games. I was in Africa the last two weeks doing some charity work," said the Sudanese-born, London-raised forward.

"But the insurance thing is cleared - GB, the NBA, Chicago - everyone really chipped in and got it done in time."

Deng contributed 24.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in GB's last qualifying campaign two years ago when, like this summer, insurance wrangling kept him off court until the opening qualifier.

"My main focus is the qualifying games," he said. "I know the friendly games get the team going but I think I'll get my rhythm with the team more from practice than from playing 10 minutes in a game, so I'll get in shape and be ready for those games."

Only six members of the squad have returned from the 12 that played in the EuroBasket finals in Poland last year, when Deng was absent through injury, and only five players remain from the last time Deng played for GB.

606: DEBATE

"It's a good thing and a bad thing," said Deng. "The bad side is, a lot of these guys are going to get their first experience in qualifying games and we need them to be on the same page right away.

"The big part is, these guys are young and they're going to get good experience and hopefully we'll take care of business and this is going to help a lot in the future."

Despite Deng's return, GB coach Chris Finch is without several key players, including Robert Archibald and Joel Freeland.

NBA player Ben Gordon has been ruled out of August's qualifiers because the Detroit Pistons guard has not recovered after having bone spurs removed from his ankle.

GB narrowly lost their opening warm-up game 82-78 to a Canadian development squad on Wednesday.

GB will face home and away qualifiers against Hungary, Macedonia, Bosnia & Hercegovina and Ukraine in August as they bid to earn a ticket to EuroBasket 2011.

They will continue their preparations with a game against Finland on Friday before travelling to Tel Aviv to play in a warm-up tournament with Belgium, Israel and Holland.



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see also
Injury rules out Gordon GB debut
13 Jul 10 |  Basketball
Deng's Bulls exit NBA play-offs
28 Apr 10 |  Basketball
Finch confident of Deng's return
12 Apr 10 |  Basketball
Coach calls for GB trio to commit
14 Feb 10 |  Basketball


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