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Joel Freeland has decided not to represent Great Britain for the Eurobasket 2015 Qualifiers this summer, opting instead to remain in Portland to workout with the Trailblazers.
It comes as a major blow to coach Joe Prunty and the GB side, who are already sweating over the availability of free agent Luol Deng and Byron Mullins, who is expected to be a no show.
Speaking to MVP Magazine in January, Freeland, who missed Eurobasket 2013 to focus on his season with Portland, admitted that he missed international duty, saying “I’m definitely excited about getting back involved.”
Freeland, who started his career with England Basketball side, Solent Stars has made a dramatic U-turn.
“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.”
The Eurobasket Qualifiers are pivotal for Great Britain, perhaps even more important as it is a chance to prove to UK Sport that they deserve the necessary funding needed to fund the growing sport in Britain.
UK Sport, an agency that is responsible for investing around £100 million of public funds each year – from both the National Lottery and the Exchequer – in high performance sport, decided to cut all funding for basketball due to the national teams failure to reach their goals of reaching the FIBA World Cup and the world championship for women.
Great Britain though too many over achieved at Eurobasket in Slovenia last year by beating Israel and Germany. They also pushed Belgium and Ukraine to the limit as well. The women’s side reached the second round of Eurobasket Women in France last year but narrowly missed out on a spot in the last eight.
The under-20 men’s side got promoted to Division A last year and are currently 2-1 at the U20 European Championships in Crete, Greece, where they have beaten Latvia and the hosts themselves. The latter of the wins coming thanks to a game-winning three-pointer from Luke Nelson.