Kristaps Porzingis

Kristaps Porzingis
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Kristaps Porzingis to skip Latvia Olympic run

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New York Knicks 7-footer Kristaps Porzingis said Monday he will not play for Latvia in either Olympic qualifying or, if it qualifies for Rio without him, the Olympics in August.

He held a press conference in Riga.

Porzingis averaged 14.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game after being the fourth overall pick in the NBA Draft on June 25.

He 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, initially being eliminated from Olympic qualifying. But a FIBA format change allowed Latvia back into a last-chance qualifier this July.

Without Porzingis, Latvia will travel to Serbia for a six-team, winner-goes-to-Rio tournament. Serbia, the reigning World silver medalist, will be heavily favored.

Latvia appeared in the first Olympic men’s basketball tournament in 1936 and none since.

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Kristaps Porzingis not yet committed to Latvia Olympic qualifying run

Kristaps Porzingis
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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.

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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.