Update: Joel Freeland returned to London to examine his knee after complaining of soreness according to Team Great Britain. At this point GB is being cautious with Freeland and it's unknown if he will miss any time leading into the 2012 London Olympics.
Joel Freeland received a bit of rude awakening about playing against NBA superstars this past Thursday night.
Team USA pounded Great Britain in Manchester on 118-78 and the soon-to-be rookie got caught sleeping on an in-bounds play from LeBron James off of Freeland’s back side for a quick lay-up.
It was all part of a 40-point win by Team USA.
In the first half GB put on a respectable performance and actually kept the game close going down by 10 points in stretches, but when the second half started it was clear one team came out of the locker room prepared to put the hammer down.
Deron Williams was inserted into the starting lineup and scored 19 points, with Carmelo Anthony (19 points) and James (16 points) sharing the offensive load for Team USA who also stepped up defensively and forced 26 turnovers.
As for Team GB, Luol Deng (25 points) and Pops Mensah-Bonsu (12 points) can’t do all of the heavy lifting like the duo attempted on Thursday night. When the Olympics finally get underway in a little over a week, they’ll need at least a third option on offense if the host team is going to last very long in London.
Some believe Joel Freeland, who signed last week with the Portland Trail Blazers after spending the last six years playing in Spain after being drafted in 2006, would offer another low post presence and big man who can run the floor for GB.
Instead, against Team USA Freeland went M.I.A.
Freeland finished with 6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 turnovers on 3-7 from the field in 23 minutes.
Aside from his own lay-up in transition to open the game, Freeland looked out of sorts on both ends of the floor. Give the man this though: matching up again James and Kevin Durant is a nightmare for the majority of players in the league.
Come the NBA season, that won’t be typical assignments for Freeland who is really a “stretch 4” and will probably see good run at center.
But until then, Freeland will be under the microscope a little during the Olympics as fans in Portland tune-in to see what they can expect from Freeland.
“I’m really not thinking about being the focus. I hope it will help British basketball if I can get some more exposure into the limelight here in England -- that would be amazing. It’s been difficult the last few years to only have one (British) person in the NBA, so I hope this will help to aid that,” Freeland said about his move to the NBA.
“They don’t know who I am (NBA stars). They have no idea who I am. They aren’t going to show me any respect, of course not. I have to earn that respect when I get there,” Freeland said when asked about competing against stars like LeBron and Kobe Bryant this coming season.
A word of an advice from an NBA star to the rookie heading to Portland: keep your mouth quiet.
“Teams do it all of the time (bring in overseas players to the NBA). It’s common and I think he’ll have a lot of success as long as he comes in, works hard and keeps his mouth quiet,” a joking Deron Williams laughed.
Another word of advice -- always be aware of where the ball is.
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