Deng confident of EuroBasket fitness
NBA star Luol Deng has vowed to spearhead Great Britain's assault on the European Championships, despite suffering from a stress fracture to the shin.
DEFIANT DENG: GB ace Luol Deng confident of regaining fitness despite current injury (Getty Images)
The Sudan-born 23-year-old, who signed a six-year deal worth a guaranteed $71million with the Chicago Bulls last year, will miss the remainder of the NBA season.
Great Britain's EuroBasket campaign kicks off in September and provides the opportunity for early qualification for the London 2012 Olympics.
There were no Great Britain teams at the Beijing Olympics, but with Deng added to the ranks, optimism for London 2102 has sky-rocketed.
And while Deng admits he does not know when he will be stepping back onto the court, he remains adamant he will be ready to lead GB's European adventure.
"I'm pretty confident I will be fit for EuroBasket but I can't be 100 per cent sure until I'm back in training and back on the court," said Deng.
"I've had an MRI scan and that revealed a slight fracture but it's nothing complicated or anything major.
"The doctors have told me the best thing I can do is rest so that's exactly what I'm doing but soon I'll be back running again - I'm confident that surgery won't be required.
"Everybody knows how much I enjoy playing for the national team and how badly I want to play, I don't think that's a question."
Deng will also be back on home soil for the NBA European Live Tour when the Bulls face off against the Utah Jazz in a pre-season friendly at the O2 Arena.
"I can't wait to come over and play in London with thousands of Brits getting the chance to see us play," he added.
Tensions between Deng's owners and the British Basketball Association have been high, since the national body were forced to cover the small forward's significant insurance costs, following his lucrative deal, to ensure he could play for Great Britain.
Under FIBA rules however, the Bulls would be powerless to prevent Deng from competing for Great Britain at EuroBasket, but would no doubt stoke the fires even further.