The British Olympic Association (BOA) has today announced the 12 players that head coach Chris Finch has chosen to represent Team GB at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The selected athletes are:
Kieron Archara, (Manresa, Spain)
Robert Archibald (Zaragoza, Spain)
Eric Boateng (Peristeri, Greece)
Dan Clark (Estudiantes, Spain)
Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls, USA)
Joel Freeland (Unicaja, Spain)
Kyle Johnson (Apoel, Cyprus)
Andrew Lawrence (College of Charleston, USA)
Mike Lenzly (CEZ Nymburk, Czech Republic)
Pops Mensah-Bonsu (Besiktas, Turkey)
Nate Reinking (Sheffield Sharks, UK)
Andrew Sullivan (Leicester Riders, UK)
Ogo Adegboye was the unlucky 13th man cut, with it already being reported at the weekend that Devon van Oostrum, Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Myles Hesson’s Olympic journeys had ended. NBA players Ben Gordon and Byron Mullens had both previously withdrawn.
With the announcement, and the Olympics fast approaching, GB star Luol Deng said he can’t wait until the games:
“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.”
While all 12 players will be making their Olympic Games debut, they bring plenty of top level competitive experience with them. Led by Luol Deng, Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Joel Freeland this will be the strongest roster the team has had competing since their inception 5 years ago.
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.
Finch admitted making the final decision was not easy:
“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.”
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.”
Whilst Performance Director Chris Spice added:
“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.”
The team is currently 0-5 in their warm-up games, and will head on a road trip at the end of this week that will see them face France (Saturday) and Spain (Monday) before returning to the UK to play a tournament in Sheffield.
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.
Thoughts on the final roster? Who’s ready for the Olympics?!