FREELAND A NO-GO FOR GB

Great Britain v PolandJoel Freeland will not play for Great Britain in next month’s EuroBasket qualifiers, claiming it is no benefit to his career.

The Portland Trail Blazers forward has had a change of heart over his involvement in what is a major blow to GB’s hopes of earning a place in next year’s finals.

Freeland, who was also absent from EuroBasket 2013, told MVP in January that he had missed international duty, saying “I’m definitely excited about getting back involved.”

But the U-turn has arrived and the 27-year-old will again remain in Portland to work on his practice regimen, ahead of the third and final year of his rookie NBA deal, rather suiting up for his country.

“I said I’m committed to staying over here and getting better over here,” he told The Oregonian. “I don’t want to do that stuff when, really, it’s not going to help me in my career. I need to focus on my career.”

Addiitonally, he told the team’s website: “I want to improve my offense, I want to get comfortable with my offense. Defense, I’ve still got to take steps forward with my defence as well. The stuff I learned last year, I’m just trying to perfect that and I’m trying to become a more rounded player, offensively and defensively, which I think will be a step forward from what I did last year and will make me more valuable.”

With uncertainty over the availability of Luol Deng, who remains a NBA free agent, and the likelihood that Byron Mullens will be a no-show, it could cloud the chances of GB, who are due to open training camp next Tuesday in Worcester ahead of their opening friendly against Latvia on July 19.

UK Sport, who withdrew all funding for British Basketball earlier this year, have previously cited an apparent lack of commitment from leading players as a negative mark against the sport.

Meanwhile GB coach Joe Prunty is understood to be finalising a switch from the Brooklyn Nets to the Milwaukee Bucks in a move that would see him become associate head coach to Jason Kidd.

Photo by Mansoor Ahmed

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