NBA superstar Luol Deng has praised Sheffield Sharks shooting guard Nate Reinking as someone that any player can learn from.
Chicago Bulls small forward Deng is in the city with the Great Britain squad ahead of a two-match series against Portugal, which begins today at the Motorpoint Arena.
Born in Sudan but raised in London after arriving in England as a refugee, the 6ft 9in Deng has been part of the Great Britain squad since it was formed after London won the bid to host the Olympics this summer.
Coached by former Sharks boss Chris Finch, Reinking has also been a key member of the squad which is gradually becoming a force in the world game.
Deng said being around 38-year-old Reinking during international duty has been a good experience. “I’ve learned a lot from Nate - we all have. The way he takes care of himself. He’s such a pro,” he said.
“He’s such a good example. If you’re trying to have a successful career he’s the type of guy whose brains you want to pick.”
The 27-year-old had praise for Finch, too: “He has come a long way with now being an assistant coach in the NBA. He’s not getting enough credit with what he’s done with this programme. If this was any other sport he’d get a lot more.
“We’ve come a long way. In the last six years or so we’ve come to a point where we’re competing with the best in the world.
“There’s still some work to do, but we’re heading in the right direction. I think six years ago we all weren’t here and some of the guys were still young, including myself. I’d played only two or three years. Now we’ve got guys who have played in Europe, are playing professionally. We don’t really have any college players now. The experience has definitely helped.”
GB Women continued their Olympic preparation on Friday afternoon in Sheffield with a comfortable 74-57 victory over AfroBasket Champions, Angola.
The women’s team play Australia today at the Arena (5pm) part of a GB double-header which will see the men’s team face Portugal at 3pm. The men again play Portugal tomorrow at Ponds Forge (3pm) with the women finishing their three-match tournament against France (5pm).