|A fit Nikola Pekovic is of paramount importance to Montenegro's bid for a EuroBasket 2013 spot|
By Jeff Taylor
Montenegro have not ruled Nikola Pekovic out of their EuroBasket 2013 Qualification Round campaign despite the national team captain's decision to have surgery to remove bone spurs from his right ankle.
The 2.09m center has been playing well, but with pain, and wants to bring an end to the problem.
Pekovic spoke to the Minneapolis Star Tribune about his decision to have an operation.
"It's something that will help me to be healthy next season," he said.
"It will help me and my team and everything.
"I know without that trouble, I'll be more calm, not thinking about it.
"And hopefully, not miss any games."
Pekovic has been averaging 13.4 points and 7.10 rebounds in his second season in the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In a five-game stretch early last month, he poured in 20 or more points, reaching double digits in rebounds in three of them.
Pekovic played on Tuesday night in the Timberwolves' 91-84 defeat to Memphis and had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
A date for his operation has yet to be announced.
After the surgery, Pekovic says he'll be in a better frame of mind.
"I'm looking forward to not thinking about this," he said, "like I do every time [the ankle] hurts."
Montenegro will go up against Serbia, Israel, Estonia, the Slovak Republic and Iceland in the EuroBasket Qualification Round and they haven't given up hope that Pekovic can play.
Their first game is at home on 15 August against Israel.
Pekovic will travel to Podgorica and discuss his status with the federation at the end of April, once Minnesota's season has ended.
He is then expected to give official confirmation on whether or not he will be able to represent Montenegro this summer.
"He's going to be here and after that, he'll make a decision," a spokeswoman for the Montenegrin Basketball Federation confirmed to FIBAEurope.com
Pekovic averaged 13 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest at the EuroBasket in Lithuania last year.