Luol Deng plays nearly every minute in Britain loss to Russia

Luol Deng always knew this Olympic experience would be about more than final scores.

So minutes after Great Britain opened preliminary round play at a raucous Basketball Arena Sunday night with a 95-75 loss to Russia, the All-Star Bulls’ forward offered as much postgame eloquence as he had in-game sweat while playing all but 63 seconds.

“It was a special moment,” Deng said after his 26-point effort. “For us growing up, basketball didn’t get much attention. We’re playing against the world where basketball is everything in their country. We have dreams. We want to develop the game. Hopefully, we have youngsters watching and following our footsteps.”

This is Great Britain’s first Olympic basketball appearance since 1964. It’s Deng’s first Games. He is playing in with a torn ligament in his left wrist as some way to repay the country that offered his family political asylum from war-torn Sudan.

“This is why I chose to do this,” Deng said.

– Reported by K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune

Deng led Great Britain with 26 points, but was unusually inefficient, shooting 8-of-27 from the field, including 2-of-11 from beyond the arc. Deng, one of only two NBA players on the national team (Joel Freeland), was forced to shoot early and often to try and keep pace with  the Russians. He also played a team-high 39 minutes in the loss.

Last year Deng’s shooting percentage dropped nearly five percentage points, from 46.0 to 41.2 percent.  It’s unknown whether Deng will require wrist surgery or opt to have it after the Olympics, which would cause him to miss 3-4 months.

– Reported by CSN Chicago