Brits Qualify For Euro Basketball Championship After 28-Year Drought
It took nearly three decades, but Great Britain has qualified for the European Championship in basketball in Poland. The British squad, led by Chicago Bulls guard Luol Deng, earned their spot by defeating the Czech Republic 67-63.
Deng, who was born in Sudan but raised in London, was a key to the win over the Czechs and a key to the resurgence of British basketball.
The British team was only reformed two-and-a-half years ago and gained promotion to Division A of EuroBasket last summer, and a confident Deng set his sights on even greater glory at the European finals.
"Since I was young I always wanted to win a championship and now we have a chance what with playing next year," Deng said.
"This is what it's all about, as a child you dream about it and now it's come true.
The Bulls swingman was nearly left off the British squad because British Basketball struggled to pay enough insurance to cover Deng, who signed a US$80 million contract with the Bulls earlier this summer. The British team paid an estimated US$500,000 insurance premium because the NBA's insurers, who usually covers players when they play for their national teams, refused to cover Deng due to a previous back injury.
After qualifying for the first time since 1980, British Basketball likely feels it was money well spent.