Portland Trail Blazers’ Joel Freeland told media this afternoon that despite his summer decision to skip EuroBasket 2013 with the Great Britain squad to develop and prepare for this current NBA season, he is “fully committed” to representing his country in the future.
Speaking as part of a media conference call, the centre, with 3.6 points and 3.6 rebounds on average, so far, has made an improved start to the NBA campaign compared with last year, and felt that it was necessary to take a year out from the international scene in order to make waves with the Blazers.
However, now with him having settled more into the NBA way, Freeland is open to join up with the GB squad again in the future: “I’m always committed to helping the national squad – the only reason why I took the summer off last year was for personal reasons.
“I felt like that I had try to further my career in any way I could,” Freeland went on to say. “I felt that if I played for the national team I might be taking steps backwards, as the style of play is completely different to the NBA. But from here on out I’m fully committed to the national team, I’m just hoping I can continue what I’m doing what I’m doing at the moment to be able to get the opportunity to get back and play for the national team.”
The choice to do so was his and his alone, as a way of breaking through and making an impact within the Portland set-up: “I didn’t speak to anybody about it. I had numerous conversations with my agent, obviously, but that decision was purely my decision.”
As has been the case in the past regarding the GB squad, Luol Deng chose to go against the advice of the Chicago Bulls and play at the London 2012 Olympic Games for his adopted country, despite the need to have surgery on his wrist – which to date he still has not undergone any surgical treatment for.
However, Freeland’s team have been right behind his desire to play for his country: “Portland had no influence on that decision whatsoever, they’ve always been supportive of me if I want to play for my national team or not. That was a decision I made on a personal level knowing that I wanted to improve, and needed to improve, and the only way I was going to do that was by focusing on my NBA game and career.
With having played against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night, it did allow an opportunity for Freeland to speak with GB head coach, and assistant to the Nets, Joe Prunty. The two had plenty to talk about it seems regarding the national set-up, and it looks as though the door is well and truly open for the Farnham-born baller to feature for GB in the future if he continues to progress in this type of form.
“I had a long conversation with him [Prunty]; he’s a great guy, very, very down to earth, we had a good conversation and I mentioned how well they had done during Eurobasket, getting the two victories.
“He told me to keep doing what I’m doing, keep the work up, how everyone is noticing the hard work I’m putting in. I’ll be in contact with him through the season as well.”
- Joel Freeland and the Portland Trail Blazers take on Luol Deng and the Chicago Bulls on Friday night/Saturday morning at 3am. Watch the game live or on-demand via NBA LEAGUE PASS at www.nba.tv
- Image credit: NBAE/Getty Images