Miami Heat forward Luol Deng has come out against the Great Britain chiefs, saying that there is no direction in the national programme.
Speaking to the Daily Star newspaper, Deng, who is in London for his Luol Deng Camp has said that he may never play for Great Britain again, blaming communication from the top brass to the players who are playing all over Europe and in the NBA.
Deng, born in South Sudan last represented GB at the 2012 Olympics in London.
“I have no idea where British basketball is going,” Deng said. “I really don’t. Until there’s a clear picture, a plan, I don’t know… If it’s: ‘Hey, this is the goal in two years we want to be here, let’s get everybody together’ then great.“But I don’t know. I wonder how many people British basketball is in communication with, besides the coach. The coach has been calling everybody, but who’s really in charge of reaching out to players? I’ve said this for years.”
Deng, currently contracted to the Heat on a one-year deal, reportedly worth $10.1million has admitted that his insurance costs could have played a small factor in Great Britain being unable to select him for post-London 2012 tournaments but he still maintains that the national side’s demise since Eurobasket 2013 has been a lack of any future goals within the sport.
Deng’s comments will come as a blow to the National Teams Director Warwick Cann who is coming under increasing pressure to consider his position after not just a loss of players, like Deng, Joel Freeland and Pops Mensah-Bonsu but also back room staff like operations director Sinead Gordon, who is now with FIBA Europe.
“You’ve got guys playing all over Europe and they don’t hear anything, then as soon as the summer comes you want to reach out to them? It doesn’t work like that,” Deng said.
“You have to let them know what the goal is, what you’re targeting. You have individuals like myself who want to play and will reach out to get everyone back. But if you don’t have a plan, you can’t blame the players. It’s frustrating because I’ve always had high hopes.
“If you create a buzz about this sport, things will happen. There is so much talent here. We could dominate European basketball if we put the emphasis on it.
“But there are so many kids who will miss out because the emphasis isn’t there, the backing isn’t there, and they won’t follow through with basketball. It’s a shame.”
Great Britain failed to qualify for Eurobasket 2015 after they were soundly beaten in all four qualifying games by Bosnia & Herzegovina and Iceland with their chances of advancing to the Rio Olympics gone as a result.