Luol Deng has dealt Great Britain’s men’s basketball team’s European Championship hopes a major blow after admitting he will likely sit out the tournament this summer.
The 27-year-old has been a vocal supporter of British Basketball this year, writing a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron urging for funding to return after UK Sport cut it on the road to Rio 2016 Olympics.
This and other factors were successful, with British Basketball earning a one-year reprieve, however the additional three years are dependent on results in 2013.
And Deng’s decision to potentially sit out the European Championships, which Britain qualify for automatically having hosted the Olympic tournament, in Slovenia, following a busy schedule that included London 2012 and his Chicago Bulls duty, could hamper their chances.
But Deng is backing the team to come good whether he is involved or not.
“I’m not sure 100 per-cent if I’m playing, most likely I’m not,” Deng said. “I would like to have a summer off, especially the one coming up. Last year I wanted to do the Olympics and I showed how much I wanted to do it.
“But this summer coming up, I think I’ll tone it down a little bit more. It doesn’t change whether I’ll be with the team or not. But I said that before the Olympics.
“We have a lot of good players in the team, to still be successful. We’re in a good position and I fully trust in the guys.
“Just because we have the funding doesn’t change my decision. The funding is not just for me to play. The funding is for the youngsters and expanding the game.”
© Sportsbeat 2013