THE highest paid member of the British Olympic team will be in action in the city this weekend.
Basketball fans will know all about the story of Luol Deng - the Sudanese refugee who moved to London before finding fame and fortune in the NBA with Michael Jordan’s former club, the Chicago Bulls - but only the most hardy will have been there the last time Deng was in Sheffield.
The date was September 11 2007 and Deng scored 31 points against Switzerland at Ponds Forge as Great Britain all but secured their promotion to the top flight of European basketball with 74-41 win.
Since then, Deng and head coach Chris Finch, who is a former boss of Sheffield Sharks, have moulded a squad that is rapidly climbing the world rankings and could reach the quarter-finals of the Olympic competition.
Before London, 6ft 9in Deng, aged 27, is back in the city for two matches against Portugal on Saturday at
the Motorpoint Arena (3pm) and Sunday at Ponds Forge (3pm). He said the matches are important for preparing the team for the Olympics.
“The next few weeks will fly by and I can’t wait to step on the court with my team-mates at the Games,” he said.
“We plan to make Great Britain proud.”
Finch said Great Britain are unrecogniseable from when they were in Sheffield last: “I speak to people in NBA and they are very flattering about where we are. I think when other people say it to you it makes you realise how far we’ve come. We’re proud of all our staff and players.
you’re involved with it you can take it for granted but when other people say nice things it means a lot to you.”
Great Britain should beat Portugal before they meet with the USA Olympic squad in Manchester on July 19.
GB women team have three matches - against Angola tomorrow afternoon at Ponds Forge (2.30pm), Australia on Saturday at the Motorpoint Arena (5pm) and France on Sunday at Ponds Forge (5pm).