|With contract negotiations behind him Nikola Pekovic has now fully committed to summers with the Montenegrin national team |
The EuroBasket 2015 2nd Qualification Round gets under way in the summer and even the draw takes place after the winter break, but Montenegro fans have every reason to already feel optimistic about their chances.
Montenegro failed to reach the Second Round at EuroBasket 2013 last September and many felt they would have done much better had star center Nikola Pekovic decided to suit up for the national team.
That condition, it seems now, will be met next summer and possibly for many years to come.
"I am sure that in a future gathering [with the national team] I will prove that many were wrong when they accused me," Pekovic stated in an interview on Voice of America.
The Minnesota Timberwolves went on to explain that the reason behind his absence from EuroBasket was his insurance and "other issues related to it."
"I had a personal obligation [last summer] that I really had to finish, it was my top priority," the 26-year-old center said.
"What I've concluded this summer is something I have fought and worked for all these years during my basketball career."
Pekovic had a stand-out NBA season in 2012-13, averaging 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds, then became a restricted free-agent and in August, while the national team were in training camp, he signed a new five-year with the Minneapolis club.
"Now, nothing prevents me from responding to all of the future events with the national team," pledged the Montenegrin.
For the time being, Pekovic remains focused on the NBA season and hopes to help the Timberwolves reach the play-offs, which neither the Montenegrin center, nor fellow-European team-mates Ricky Rubio and Alexey Shved, have ever experienced.
Minnesota stand at 8-8 in the Western Conference as Pekovic averages 14.4 points and 8.6 boards per game.
"This year's ambitions go further than the regular season, we hope to get into the play-offs," Pekovic said.
"I am sure that we have the team to make it, we just need to stay healthy and this is the only condition that can prevent us from achieving our goal."