Bertāns, Porziņģis on board for Eurobasket

There was more great news for sports fans June 14 with confirmation that both of Latvia's NBA basketball stars will play for the national side in this year's Eurobasket tournament.

New York Knicks superstar Kristaps Porziņģis had already made himself available and he was joined June 14 by up-and-coming Dāvis Bertāns of the San Antonio Spurs, the Latvian Basketball Federation (LBF) announced.

National team coach Ainars Bagatskis has called up an enlarged 22-strong squad to prepare for Eurobasket, confirming that both Porziņģis and Bertāns are among the number.

"Davis Bertāns has repeatedly declared his willingness to play for the national team, and therefore he will talk with the San Antonio club on June 27 [about participation]," the  LBF website said, listing the full training squad.

The squad will assemble on July 17 in Riga and start on a series of warm-up games, first in Finland and then Klaipeda, Lithuania. However some players will not be available, likely including the NBA stars.

After that the LBF says the squad will be at "full strength" for test games at home in Riga against Poland, Lithuania, Romania and the Czech Republic.

Tickets are already on sale for a warm-up game in August in which Latvia plays basketball-crazy neighbors Lithuania.

The Eurobasket championship itself runs August 31 until September 17 and is jointly hosted by Finland, Israel, Romania and Turkey.

And while much attention will be focused on the performance of the NBA contingent, no less remarkable is the fact that Latvia's 35-year-old veteran Janis Blums will be participating in his seventh straight Eurobasket tournament.

The FIBA Eurobasket website has a nice interview with the indestructible VEF Riga player and national team captain HERE.

"There will be a lot of media, supporters and fans because Porzingis and Bertans will probably play and there will also be Euroleague players," he said. "But we'll need to be a team, not individuals. It will be very interesting how we build this team."

 

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