Latvia will try to qualify for its first Olympic men’s basketball berth in 80 years in July.
The nation’s biggest star doesn’t know if he’ll be there to lead the national team.
“It would be a dream come true for Latvia to make the Olympics,’’ New York Knicks rookie seven-footer Kristaps Porzingis said, according to the New York Post. “I have to make a decision. If I want to work on my game individually or play for the [national] team. It’s different ways [of developing].’’
Porzingis will ultimately decide whether he will play in the Olympic qualifying tournament or play for the Knicks’ summer league team and prepare for the 2016-17 NBA season in the U.S., according to the report.
Porzingis, 20 and the No. 4 overall NBA 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.
Latvia finished eighth at EuroBasket without Porzingis in September, initially being eliminated from Olympic qualifying. But a FIBA format change for July’s last-chance qualifier allowed Latvia back in.
In July, Latvia will travel to Serbia for a six-team, winner-goes-to-Rio tournament. Serbia, the reigning World silver medalist, will be heavily favored.
“I think we’d have chance with or without me,” Porzingis said, according to the report. “But I have to make a decision.’’
He could skip the qualifying tournament and still be put on the Olympic team for the Rio Games in August, should Latvia win the qualifying tournament.
Knicks teammates Carmelo Anthony and Jose Calderon are expected to play for their national teams at the Olympics, but the U.S. and Spain have already qualified for the Games.