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England gets OK to play basketball at 2012 Games

The international basketball federation has cleared Britain's men's and women's teams to compete in the 2012 London Olympics without qualifying.

The world governing body FIBA gave the teams a special exemption at a central board meeting Sunday after receiving guarantees that the host will improve its long-term basketball program after the games.

Britain has lagged far behind other European countries in basketball, but its men's and women's teams have both qualified for their European championships this year.

The British men's team could feature Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng, Ben Gordon of the Detroit Pistons and former NBA player Pops Mensah-Bonsu, who now plays for Lyon-Villeurbane of the French league.