Freeland delight at NBA move

17 July 2012 / 17:52

Joel Freeland has an extra spring in his step as he links back up with his Great Britain team-mates in preparing for the London Olympics.

Freeland re-joined training on Monday ahead of Thursday's match-up with the United States in Manchester, having completed a whirlwind trip to Oregon to sign for the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers.

The 25-year-old had been given time off after Britain's narrow loss to European champions Spain in Valladolid last week, missing the back-to-back victories over Portugal in Sheffield, to make the trip after agreeing a three-year contract worth a reported US dollars 9million last week.

"It was all quite sudden," said Freeland. "They were having some problems signing a guy they wanted and that opened up a huge gap for me.

"I just took my decision and stuck with it, but it happened quickly. I verbally agreed my contract straight after the Spain game at something like one o'clock in the morning, then I had one day back in England and I was on a plane to Portland."

Freeland, from Farnham, Surrey, was first drafted by Portland back in 2006 when playing in obscurity as a teenager in the Spanish third tier.

The NBA team encouraged him to remain in Europe and develop his game, and stints with Gran Canaria and Unicaja Malaga in Spain's tough ACB League now have him ready to make the jump.

Freeland admitted his flying visit had not allowed time for a detailed discussion of his likely role with the Blazers, but he intends to head back to the States soon after the Olympics in order to begin work.

"I'm going to be going there probably a month prior to everybody else to get myself ready physically and mentally," he said.

Having returned to the British camp on Monday for a light practice before playing a fuller role on Tuesday, Freeland is now returning his focus to matters in hand.

Britain face the world and Olympic champions on Thursday with the London Games drawing ever nearer.

"I'm just trying to get my wind back," Freeland said. "It's not easy to come back from a week out when you're travelling and go here, there and everywhere, but I'm going to be fine, I'm going to be ready.

"We're playing against the United States, so of course I'm excited. Who wouldn't be excited for a game like that?"