- National Teams
British Basketball today announced their initial 17-strong squad for the Great Britain Senior Men’s team, as they begin their 2011 Eurobasket campaign.
The team will once again be led by Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng but his partner in crime Pops Mensah-Bonsu, who led the team in scoring and rebounding in last summer’s campaign, will be unavailable as he recovers from a shoulder injury sustained in the French league playoffs last month. Mensah-Bonsu commented:
“I am very disappointed to not be participating in this summer’s activities with the GB team. But I am also confident in the coaches and the players representing GB, and I know that they will do the country proud. Although it will be difficult to watch, I will be supporting the team along the way, hoping and praying for the best.”
Detroit Pistons guard Ben Gordon will pick up the slack in Pops’ absence, as he is expected to make his long-awaited GB debut after a number of previous withdrawals.
Laurence Ekperigin is the biggest surprise in the list, having no previous links to British basketball. The 6’7″ forward/centre, a 2010 graduate from NCAA Division 2 school Le Moyne, spent the last season between Mobis Phoebus in South Korea (where he averaged 14.3 points, 7.9 boards and 1.3 blocks per game) and Angelico Biella in Italy (3.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 16 minutes per outing).
The full roster is as follows:
Kieron Achara (Barcellona, Italy)
Ogo Adegboye (St Bonavantures, USA)
Robert Archibald (Unicaja Malaga, Spain)
Eric Boateng (Austin Toros, USA)
Flinder Boyd (AEK, Greece)
Matthew Bryan-Amaning (University of Washington, USA)
Dan Clark (Estudiantes, Spain)
Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls, USA)
Laurence Ekperigin (Angelico Biella, Italy)
Joel Freeland (Unicaja Malaga, Spain)
Ben Gordon (Detroit Pistons, USA)
Ashley Hamilton (Loyola Marymount University, USA)
James Jones (Mersey Tigers, England)
Mike Lenzly (CEZ Nymburk, Czech Republic)
Nate Reinking (Mersey Tigers, England)
Justin Robinson (Rider University, USA)
Andrew Sullivan (Mersey Tigers, England)
Head coach Chris Finch, is pleased with the mixture of young talent and veteran experience on the squad:
“Each summer one of our goals is to get our best talent together. In addition, we are constantly looking to work with younger players and continue to evaluate those who we see as real contenders to help us now and for years to come.”
“This collection of players accomplishes these objectives. Now it’s incumbent on our guys to continue to make the commitment to our program, and arrive at Cobham in peak shape determined to take GB to a new level.”
Training camp opens in Cobham on 30th July where preparations will begin for this summer’s Eurobasket with two friendlies against the Netherlands and Nigeria schedule on 7th and 9th August respectively.
GB will then compete in the London International Basketball Invitational; the first tournament in London’s Olympic Park as part of LOCOG’s ‘London Prepares’ series from 16-21 August. The team’s Eurobasket preparation will be rounded off with a final test-game against Latvia in Riga on August 27th.
The first round of EuroBasket will be hosted in Panevezys, Lithuania, where the Standard Life GB men will take on the home nation Lithuania (31 Aug), Turkey (1 Sept), Spain (2 Sept), Qualifier 2 (4 Sept) and Poland (5 Sept).
What do you think of the initial roster? How much does Pops being out hurt our chances? Drop a comment!
Image: Dan Wooller/wooller.com