Porzingis highlights Latvia's 24-man OQT squad

RIGA (Latvia) - Kristaps Porzingis cheered for Latvia from the stands at last year's FIBA Basketball World Cup after getting hurt and being forced to the sidelines yet he's back in the squad for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Riga.

The 28-year-old superstar, preparing to feature in the NBA Finals for the first time with the Boston Celtics, is among the 24 players in the preliminary group for the OQT.

The Baltic team will attempt to punch its ticket for the Summer Games for the first time since the 1936 Olympics and do so under Italian coach Luka Banchi, who has transformed the national side into a juggernaut since taking the reins in the European Qualifiers for the 2023 World Cup.

Latvia 24-man squad for FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament Riga

Artis AteDairis BertansDavis BertansKlavs Cavars
Andrejs GrazulisKriss HelmanisArturs KurucsRodion Kurucs
Martin LaksaTom LeimanisRihards LomazMareks Mejeris
Andrzej PasechnikKristaps PorzingisRoland SchmidtAigars Skele
Karlis SilinjsOjars SilinsMarc Steinberg  Arturs
 Janis Strelnieks Janis TimmaArturs ZagarsKristers Zoriks

Another key man in the squad is point guard Arturs Zagars, one of the revelations of the World Cup and a big reason why Latvia were able to overcome the absence of Porzingis.

The 24-year-old put an exclamation mark on a great tournament with a World Cup single-game record 17 assists in the Fifth-Place Game triumph over Lithuania.

Zagars looked doubtful for the OQT  when he hurt his knee while playing for BC Wolves and underwent surgery yet he returned to the hardwood several weeks ago and has looked more and more like the player that excelled in Jakarta and Manila.

In an interview with the LKL.lt website, he spoke of his aim to be at the OQT.

"Obviously, I'm still working towards that," he said. "With every game, with every attack, I feel that I'm getting my rhythm back, my legs are starting to listen to me. Now the point is that I have to read situations correctly, when to attack, when and how to defend.

"Slowly, but I'm getting there. I'm not worried about it, I'm happy that the body and knees are sending good signals."

Latvia will play in Group A at the OQT with Georgia and the Philippines, while Brazil, Montenegro and Cameroon will be in Group B.



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