Joel Freeland Remains Loyal to Country Despite GB Absence -

Joel Freeland Remains Loyal to Country Despite GB Absence

As Joel Freeland begins the final season of his three year deal with Portland he has spoken candidly about not suiting up for Great Britain for the past two summers, admitting it was an incredibly difficult decision to make.

“It’s not a nice thing for me to have to choose between my country and my team but at the end of the day I had to make that decision and I have,” he said in a conference call with UK media on Wednesday evening.

The GB forward played in the Summer League with Portland, a rarity for a three year veteran, believing that by being present and showing his commitment to the team, he makes a stronger case to get minutes this year on a squad that brought in Chris Kaman at his position.

“It’s tough for me (choosing between GB and Portland) and I think people have to understand that…I really have to devote everything to this team at the moment and it’s hard for me to split the two,” he said thoughtfully.

“If they (Portland) don’t see me here in the summer working out trying to get better, people kind of forget about you and that’s the struggle I’ve been going through.

“Obviously I love playing for my country and I love playing for GB but I had to make a decision and the last couple of years I’ve had to be over here. I don’t think I would have had the season last year or even got the minutes I got last year if I played for the national team so there has to be a balance.”

Freeland admitted it was tough to watch this summer’s GB squad struggle against the likes of Iceland and fail to qualify for EuroBasket 2015.

“It was hard. Obviously they didn’t have the best of runs, they did the best they could with what they had, I would’ve loved to have been a part of it but I had a decision to make and I had to follow through with that decision and not second guess myself.”

Funding for the GB programme remains up in the air, with a likely rescue package from Sport England expected to be announced in the coming weeks, and though Joel says he would be devastated if the programme ceased to exist, he feels UK Sport’s criticism that British Basketball doesn’t have access to players like him year round because they are based abroad is perfectly fair.

“I don’t think it’s a criticism at all because it’s reality. Growing up, playing in my younger years, there was no option other than to go abroad, that’s what you have to do and that’s what you did that was the only thing that you strived for. I did it, Dan Clark did it, Matt Guymon did it, Matthew Bryan-Amaning did it, in my generation that’s all you did.

“Obviously it would be better for the country if the player could stay or have a programme that they could stay in that was funded well, but they don’t have that, so there’s no other option.”

He has no qualms about the management of the GB elite programme, believing they play “no part” in the issues, despite admitting he does not hear from them on any type of regular basis.

He is the first to admit, with great humility, that it’s hard to be the role model he wants to be when he isn’t playing too much, but like other GB players, Freeland wants to give back and intends to make plans this season to do something for the sport in England next summer.

Luol Deng’s camp has been running for close to a decade, Drew Sullivan runs his DS8 Clinics, while Dan Clark had his inaugural Dan Clark Basketball Camp this past summer.

“That’s something that interests me a lot, something I’d like to do, especially in England. I really feel like there’s a lot of untapped potential out there, kids that aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve to make the steps they want to make. It’s definitely something I’m going to be thinking about this season going into the summer.”

As the younger generation continues to have a single track focus on the US pathway route, Freeland, who moved to Spain to pursue his pro career as a teenager, has urged them to consider the European route as well

“A lot of people do get stuck in just trying to get the NBA,” he said. “People have been just as successful going through Europe as well. It worked for me. It should appeal to everyone, I don’t think people should get stuck in the notion of just going to high school or wanting to going to college, Europe is an unbelievable option as well.”

While Freeland looks to get more involved with the UK game at a grassroots level, he has not forgotten his national team duties, where by suiting up he can inspire the youth for generations to come.

“I don’t think it’s the last you’ve seen of me, who knows what’s going to happen in the future. I love playing for the national team and I would love to play for them in the future.”

To subscribe to NBA LEAGUE PASS and watch every NBA game live or on-demand, please visit

Image Credit: NBAE/Getty Images.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *