FREELAND ON BOARD FOR LITHUANIA

Joel Freeland has ended speculation over his summer plans by confirming he will be available to spearhead Great Britain’s Eurobasket quest.

The Unicaja Malaga forward, now considered one of the premier big men in the Euroleague, sat out last year’s qualifying campaign in what was a major blow for the plans of head coach Chris Finch.

However the 24-year-old, who was drafted by the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers in 2006, intends to take up his place when Team GB begins its preparations in August ahead of the finals in Lithuania.

“I missed last year but this year I will definitely play,” he said.

“I didn’t play last year because of my ankle. I was having problems with my ankle and I wanted to fix it before I come to Malaga.”

It will provide a huge lift for Finch as he plots a path through a group which also includes Spain, Turkey and the Eurobasket hosts.

Freeland is expected to be the cornerstone of Great Britain’s frontcourt and an offensive focus along side Luol Deng and, potentially, Ben Gordon.

And he insists no-one should write off the team’s chances after their battling showing in the 2009 finals in Poland.

“We’re fighters and GB is a team of fighters,” he told RealGM.com

“We take every challenge. I remember the last Eurobasket. For us it’s great achievement to almost beat a team like Spain, world champions.

“I just know that we will have a good team and will be ready. We’re looking forward to this summer to come to Lithuania and play.”

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