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British talent is being wasted due to a lack of funding, says Deng

Last Updated: 17/07/12 3:30pm

Deng: captain of the British team

Luol Deng told Special Report that he hopes the London Olympics will help boost British basketball.

"We have the talent but at the moment that talent is being wasted."

Luol Deng

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The Chicago Bulls man will captain the British team at this month's Games - the country's first showing on the Olympic stage since 1948.

Funding for basketball on these shores has diminished significantly over the previous few years and so has the number of people taking part in the sport.

But Deng, who has been playing in the star-studded NBA since 2004, says Britain is stacked with talented players, and he reckons the action in the English capital this summer could convince policy makers to put more money into the game.

"For a long time I have wanted basketball to get more attention," said Deng, the only Briton to be selected for an NBA All Star Game. "There are a lot of kids who love to play the sport.

"Basketball is growing all over the world, especially in Europe, and we have the talent to put kids out there, develop their skills and be one of the best countries at it - but at the moment that talent is being wasted.

"A lot of kids are not involved in a lot of activities and basketball is a sport that they could try out, so the Olympics could make a big difference."

Different

Deng has had to deal with a troublesome injury to his wrist of late, but he insists that he is now fully over his ailment and cannot wait to be part of the Team GB squad.

"I could have had surgery but my wrist feels great," said the 27-year-old, whose primary position is small forward.

"I wanted to be part of the Olympics and if I was badly injured I wouldn't be playing or practicing. I'm playing with people I grew up with and this is a chance to win.

"I'm able to do everything; you'll see me playing in different positions throughout the game; doing jump shots, and making passes. I grew up playing in a lot of different positions so I'm capable of playing everywhere."

Deng - who is reportedly US President, Barack Obama's, favourite player - fled war-torn Sudan when he was just five-years-old and, after a period in Egypt, sought political asylum in Brixton, south London, when he was nine.

The Bulls player is now involved with many charities that aid Sudanese refugees and is delighted that his high-profile status can help those less fortunate than himself.

"What I do on a basketball court brings the attention to what I've been through," added Deng, who holds a £45million contract with his Illinois-based club.

"I came to London as a refugee so it has always been a part of me to give back. Since I was young I always said that if I got the opportunity to give back I would and that's my charities do."