Finch hails Deng effect

26 July 2012 / 08:51

Luol Deng can be the man to drive Great Britain to success at the London Olympics, according to basketball coach Chris Finch.

Chicago Bulls star Deng is the face of the British team, not only as the stand-out player on court but also as a model of commitment to the team.

While Finch would be the first to say there is plenty more to his squad than Deng alone, he also recognises the huge contribution the 27-year-old NBA All-Star can make.

"Everything hangs together through him and his ability to do lots of good things," Finch said. "He has the ability to make his team-mates better by passing the ball, and reacting to what they're doing.

"When your best player is one of your best people and best workers, you have a chance to be really good and that's what we have."

But Finch also knows Deng's contribution to the British team - which was only formed in 2006 with the goal of playing in these Games - goes beyond what shows up on court.

"His impact on the programme is not to be understated," the coach added. "He's made a huge commitment, like a lot of our guys. He's played every summer except when he's had injury, and even before the programme was up and running he was actively recruiting players to the cause.

"He's been a great ambassador for the sport of basketball and for all sports in the United Kingdom, playing at the highest level and this year having a breakthrough season to make the All-Star Game."

Another major asset Deng brings to the team is his ability to play in a number of different positions, something that could be needed if injuries take a bite out of Finch's squad late in their preparations.

Guard Mike Lenzly has a torn calf muscle and Dan Clark a bad ankle sprain, with Finch saying both players are "50/50 at best" to be fit for the Games, with Thursday the deadline to call in replacements. Finch will wait until the final moments to make a call as he wants to give both players every chance to recover, but he is confident his squad can adapt if the worst happens.