Bad news for fledging Team Great Britain’s Eurobasket 2009 chances: Luol Deng joins former Chicago Bulls teammate Ben Gordon in the “out” category.
Deciding that his stress fracture injury has not yet properly healed, Deng decided to sit this one out. Gordon decided as early as last August that he wouldn’t be joining the makeshift squad for Eurobasket.
“Since I started playing for GB the goal was to get to the highest level we can get to and not being able to play this summer is tough,” Deng told the BBC. “But that’s just life and it’s the smart decision for my health, especially if I’m not 100% to help the guys.”
Eurobasket 2009 is particularly crucial for Great Britain’s international basketball hopes, as the traditional automatic qualification for the host team in the 2012 Olympics has been waived in Britannia’s case; the IOC decided that no bye would automatically be given Team Great Britain because the squad simply hasn’t qualified in enough international tournaments since its re-foundation in 2005.
“It would have been a bonus if he’d been here,” Great Britain coach Chris Finch mused about Gordon back in 2008; with Deng out, Gordon seems like more of a necessity than ever. Finch, however, is reduced to repeating a line he’s stated and restated for almost a year now: “The door is always open for Ben.”