That seemed a reasonable request, as Britian hadn't qualified for an Olympic basketball tournament since 1948.
The player that drove much of Britain's improvement was Chicago Bulls small forward Luol Deng. Deng has roots in England, having moved there from his native Sudan as a child, and played for England's under-16 and under-19 national teams. With Deng leading the way, Britain moved up into the "A" level of EuroBasket competition. In March 2011, FIBA ruled that Britain would be given the traditional host nation berth.
Scoring guard Ben Gordon was born in England, and was expected to play for Great Britain as well. But he was a no-show for the team's training camp and was cut from the roster.
NBA fans may also recognize the names of ex-Dallas Maverick Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Joel Freeland - a 2006 first-round draft pick of the Portland Trail Blazers - and center Eric Boateng, who played college ball at Duke and Arizona State. Boateng played for the New York Knicks' summer league team in 2010, and was on the preseason roster of the Denver Nuggets. They are coached by Chris Finch, an assistant on Kevin McHale's staff with the Houston Rockets.
Simply qualifying for the tournament was a victory for British basketball - and it may be the only one for this team. In the FIBA rankings published after the 2010 World Championships, Britain placed 56th - well below such noted basketball powers as Bulgaria, Kazakhstan and Lebanon.