The British Olympic Association (BOA) has today announced the 12 players that will represent Team GB in men’s basketball at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
It will be only the second time in history that Team GB will be represented in basketball at the Olympics, and the first time since the Games were last hosted by London in 1948. Since the formation of British Basketball in 2007, the strength of the squad has grown substantially and the squad is now prepared to compete with some of the world’s greatest basketball sides.
The selected athletes are
While all 12 players will be making their Olympic Games debut, they bring plenty of top level competitive experience with them. The most high-profile of the selected athletes is Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng, who became the first ever British athlete to compete in the NBA’s All-Star match in February. Along with Pops Mensah-Bonsu, who recently joined Turkish giants Beşiktaş, and several other players that ply their trade in some of the strongest leagues in Europe, there is every reason to be optimistic that Team GB can pick up their first ever Olympic win on home soil.
The progress on the court has been strong in the years building up to the London Games. The British team qualified for EuroBasket for the first time ever in 2009, and at the 2011 event they secured their first wins at the tournament by defeating Poland and Portugal.
The team performed admirably at the Test Event last year, which was hosted at the Basketball Arena in the Olympic Park. Team GB beat China – ranked tenth in the world – and despite losing to Croatia, fourth-ranked Serbia and ninth-ranked Australia, the narrow margin of the scoreline suggests that the British men’s team has the potential to cause upsets against traditionally stronger basketball nations when the tournament tips off in London.
As yet, the squad still don’t know who their first opponents will be on July 29th as the qualifying campaign is not yet complete. However they will be determined to place in the top four of a group that will certainly contain Brazil, Spain, Australia and China in order to progress beyond their six-team group and into the quarter-final, where the competition relocates to the North Greenwich Arena.
The addition of the men’s basketball players brings the total number of athletes officially selected to compete for Team GB at London 2012 to 538 across all 26 sports.
Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt said:
“The progress that the men’s basketball squad has made since London was awarded the Olympics in 2005 is quite remarkable. British Basketball has worked hard to prepare a squad that is capable of producing credible and competitive performances for Team GB against the very best nations in the world at the Olympic Games.
“They will be faced with a tough group, but recent form suggests there is no reason to be fearful. They’ve secured some brilliant results in the last few years and were fantastic when the Test Event came to London last August, so there’s every reason to believe they can progress beyond the group stage.
“The home support at the Basketball Arena in the Olympic Park will create the kind of atmosphere that will get the best out of our athletes. This is a chance for our basketball players to raise the profile of this exciting and high-tempo sport and inspire youngsters across the UK to take up the sport. Having someone like Luol Deng in our team – who recently played in the NBA All-Star match – just goes to show that there is no limit to what the future generation can aspire to.”
Performance Director Chris Spice said:
“This has been an incredible journey so far for this team since 2006 and we are very pleased to announce our strongest ever team. I would like to congratulate all those who have been selected and at the same time pay tribute to those players that have just missed out. It s only through building our depth that we can continue to compete at the highest levels of international basketball and I am hoping those who just missed this time around will be with us on the road to Rio.”
Head Coach Chris Finch said:
“Cutting down to a final 12 is always difficult. We had a really productive camp in Houston and to finally announce the Olympic team here in Loughborough is fantastic. The next four weeks provide us with outstanding competition leading up to the Olympics, which is just what is required before doing battle within our group come Games time.”
Luol Deng said:
“We have all worked very hard for this opportunity and to have the final 12 named is exciting. The next few weeks will fly by and I can't wait to step on the court with my teammates at the Games. We plan to make Great Britain proud.”
Pops Mensah-Bonsu said:
“The experience at the holding camp in Loughborough has made us all realise that the Olympics are just around the corner. I am proud to be a member of this team and can't wait to represent my country on the largest stage.”