Joel Freeland and Ben Gordon have both been ruled out of Great Britain's squad for this summer's Eurobasket qualifiers through injury, joining a lengthy list of absentees which already includes Robert Archibald and Andy Betts.
Aldershot-born Freeland requires rehab on an injury with his club team Unicaja Malaga as they progressed through the ACB play-offs, before eventually going out at the semi-final stage. The 23-year-old forward has been an integral part of the GB set up which recently topped the EuroBasket Qualifying group in 2008 and competed at last year’s EuroBasket Finals. The British medical team has assessed the NBA first-round draft pick and will provide support to him throughout the summer.
In addition to Freeland, Detroit Pistons guard Gordon is struggling to overcome the effects of a post-season ankle operation that took place in early May to remove fragments of bone. It is the third successive year that the London-born NBA player has pulled out of the GB line-up, increasing doubts that he will ever play for the country of his birth.
“I am really disappointed that my injury will not be fully healed in time for me to join GB," said Gordon. "The British medical staff and management have been in touch with the Pistons over the past few weeks. Every effort has been made – unfortunately, I just won’t be ready to play come August. I am really looking forward to playing next year and will follow the team’s success this summer. It would have been great to play with Luol this summer – it will just have to wait until next year.”
GB Head Coach, Chris Finch, has recalled Sheffield Sharks forward Tafari Toney who was originally left out of his training camp roster. And the American, who is set to link up with his side ahead of their opening friendly against Canada next week, remains optimistic that the team can achieve its objectives of reaching its second consecutive EuroBasket Final.
“This is undoubtedly a blow to the team as they would have both been key players in what is going to be a challenging summer with four EuroBasket qualifying games home and away," Finch said.
“However, it will be a great opportunity for some of the younger players to step up to the mark and stake a claim for a regular place. Players like Justin Robinson, Matthew Bryan Amaning and Ashley Hamilton all performed well for the GB Futures, so we should be positive about what the younger players can offer.”
Great Britain's training camp will be held in Cobham in Surrey and Finch is looking forward to getting the players on court.
“We have a shorter period in camp than usual, so it is going to be a case of getting the guys up to speed as quickly as possible. We have some tough test games before the EuroBasket fixtures get underway on August 2 away to Hungary. Like the last campaign the home games are going to be very important to the team and getting four wins will stand us in good stead come the final game against Ukraine on August 29.”