Unicaja fans will find something more than a little familiar with Team Great Britain’s big guys in Eurobasket 2009, as both Robert Archibald and the just-acquired Joel Freeland were officially named to the national squad this week.
The announcement follows in the wake of Luol Deng’s announcement that he would be taking August off to rest a stress fracture injury and would not be participating in the international tournament. Deng had a few nice words on the Archibald-Freeland tandem in speaking to the media on Monday.
(FIBA.com) – Joel Freeland and Robert Archibald will come together to play for Great Britain at EuroBasket this summer – and they can get used to seeing a lot of each other.
On Monday, Freeland and Archibald were named to Chris Finch’s Great Britain squad for EuroBasket in Poland in September.
Freeland has signed to play with Unicaja, where the 22-year-old will come under the wing of the highly-experienced Archibald. Great Britain hopes the deal helps accelerate Freeland’s already impressive development.
The 6’11” Freeland spent the last four seasons with Gran Canaria, gradually developing on the raw talent that persuaded the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers to draft him as a relative unknown in 2006.
Freeland came to the fore last season, averaging 10 points and 4.6 rebounds.
Speaking on Monday before the deal was announced, GB star Luol Deng spoke about both players, highlighting Freeland’s potential, and Archibald’s ability to pass on his knowledge of the game to teammates.
“‘Arch’ is like a coach,” Deng said. “He’s playing but he’s helping the guys. It’s really great having him around.”
Of Freeland, Deng opined: “I’m a big fan of Joel; I enjoyed playing with him. He’s such an energetic player, very skilled and very athletic, and he’s capable of being a great player … I really believe he has the talent to be in the NBA. For Joel, last year was the first time he started to play a lot and I think that the more he plays and the more opportunities he gets, the more he’ll show his skills. I’m interested to go back and see how much he has improved and what he added to his game because I know he was very serious about it in terms of getting better.”