Kristaps Porzingis could play in Rio Olympics; Dirk Nowitzki won’t

Dirk Nowitzki, Kristaps Porzingis
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New York Knicks star rookie Kristaps Porzingis could play in the Rio Games, but Dirk Nowitzki will not, after FIBA announced the final three teams, among 18 overall, for Olympic last-chance qualifying tournaments in July.

A total of 15 teams had already qualified to be split among the three, six-team tournaments, via continental events last year.

The final three would be determined by which nations FIBA selected to host each last-chance qualifier. FIBA could have selected from among already-qualified nations, opening up spots for the top-ranked non-qualified nations, or nations not already qualified.

On Tuesday, FIBA announced that the three tournament hosts would be Italy, the Philippines and Serbia.

Italy, the Philippines and Serbia previously qualified for the last-chance tournaments, meaning Porzingis’ Latvia, 1992 Olympic silver medalist Croatia and Turkey were invited to round out the group of 18 teams fighting for three Olympic berths.

Nowitzki’s Germany, which was heartbreakingly eliminated in EuroBasket group play, was one of two nations among the six finalists to host the three tournaments that had not previously qualified for the last-chance qualifiers. Turkey was the other.

Neither nation was named a host, but Turkey ended up getting in anyway due to its world ranking (No. 8) and/or round of 16 finish at EuroBasket.

The winners of each of the last-chance qualifying tournaments will round out the Olympic men’s basketball field, which already has nine of its 12 teams.

Porzingis, 20 and the No. 4 overall draft pick, did not play for Latvia at EuroBasket in September, one month before the start of his maiden NBA season. He previously played for Latvia’s youth national team.

Nowitzki, 37 and a 13-time NBA All-Star, led Germany at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, shaving the Olympic rings into the side of his hair and carrying his nation’s flag into the Opening Ceremony. The Germans went 1-4 and were eliminated in the group stage.

That was the only time Germany’s men’s basketball team has qualified for the Games since 1992.

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*A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Lebanon received a berth in the last-chance Olympic qualifying tournaments rather than Turkey.