GB START TEST EVENT MINUS DENG

Luol Deng will be absent from Great Britain’s squad for the start of this week’s Olympic test tournament in London, giving coach Chris Finch an extra challenge as he attempts to prepare his side for EuroBasket

While Robert Archibald reported on schedule on Sunday after being given permission to arrive late following the birth of his first child, London 2012 officials have confirmed that Deng will likely not now link up with the team until Saturday, just 12 days before GB meet the hosts in their opening competitive tie in Lithuania.

Deng, whose insurance clearance for the Euros has already been obtained by British Basketball, is understood to be attending his annual youth camp in Loughborough which concludes on Friday.

One member of this summer’s GB squad, speaking to MVP on condition of anonymity, admitted that the uncertainty surrounding the arrival of the Chicago Bulls forward has been a distraction.

“We know that everything will change when Lu gets here,” said the player. “So it feels like a lot of the build-up is being wasted.”

Having already lost Ben Gordon, whose withdrawal was attributed to a failure to conclude an insurance deal, it raises questions over British Basketball’s ability to persuade its NBA-based players to fully commit – in a summer in which rivals such as Spain and France have seen their own stars report on time for their preparations to EuroBasket.

And Finch must now go into Tuesday’s opener with the French in London short-handed, with the visitors expected to be at full-strength, including leading lights such as Tony Parker and Joakim Noah.

“France has an outstanding team,” he said. “They are very motivated to be a part of London 2012 – the player commitment makes this perfectly clear. So, this test event is important to them leading up to Lithuania.”

Finch and his team then face Croatia on Wednesday and Serbia on Thursday. A rest day follows on Friday before China are their opponents on Saturday – when Deng is thought likely to arrive – and Australia the following day.

No-one from British Basketball was available for comment.

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