Great Britain set for Eurobasket warm-ups

Great Britain begin their warm-up campaign this weekend for their second successive Eurobasket appearance with friendly games against Netherlands and Nigeria in Cobham, Surrey.

The team will play a test event at the Olympic basketball arena in mid-August that has the strongest field for a tournament ever seen in the United Kingdom.

China, France, Australia, Serbia and Croatia - all teams ranked in the top 20 nations in the world - are the opposition in the sternest test yet of GB's credentials as Olympic hosts.

The six teams will play each other from 16-21 August before GB head to Latvia and then Lithuania for their Eurobasket first-round group games, also featuring six teams, at the end of the month.

Coach Chris Finch told BBC Sport he did not feel the high-profile nature of the test event would disrupt the team's preparation for Lithuania.

"It's the centrepiece of our preparation - we knew that event was going to be there for a long time," he said. "Also it happens to model Eurobasket quite well so it's good for us in that regard."

With star player Luol Deng now insured to cover his current inactive status due to the NBA lockout, Finch can call on one of the strongest line-ups of his five-year tenure as GB coach.

"Every year we've had a different squad and that's kind of how it is," he said. "This year we have a chance to have an experienced squad with a bit of depth. Even our younger guys have a bit of experience from last year's qualifying tournament."

Deng will join the team for the test event and fellow NBA star Ben Gordon's insurance negotiations are also said to be progressing well, raising hopes that the Detroit Pistons guard will make his GB debut this summer.

Point guard Flinder Boyd expects the competition for places on the team to become even more keen as the Olympic tournament approaches.

"There's huge competition - it's every athlete's dream to be in the Olympics so it'll be pretty heartbreaking for anybody who's put in a lot of time not to be able to make it," he said after viewing the Olympic site from the air recently. "Everybody's working as hard as they can and trying to fit in with the team as much as they can."

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