|13 June 2013|
|Andris Biedrins last suited up for Latvia at EuroBasket 2009, averaging 7.3 points and 11.7 rebounds per game|
Latvian national team head coach Ainars Bagatskis has announced a 17-strong preliminary squad for EuroBasket 2013 which features the welcome return of the nation's NBA player.
Golden State Warriors center Andris Biedrins, as well as VEF Riga guard Kristaps Janicenoks, who last suited up for the national team at EuroBasket 2009, are included on the list and poised to make their return in a Latvia jersey in September's big tournament in Slovenia.
"I think that if Andris plays at the EuroBasket it will significantly strengthen our team and will also benefit his personal career," Bagatskis stated.
Biedrins is still only 27 years old and Janicenoks just turned 30 in March but they will be among the veterans at Latvia's training camp, alongside point guard Edgars Jeromanovs and after shooting guard Janis Blums who, at 31, is the oldest player in the preliminary squad.
"I have worked with these players for three of four years, in a process of regeneration of and development of the national team," Bagatskis commented on his youthful squad.
"Together we have grown, gained experience and became stronger and now we have a new challenge ahead of us."
"Two years ago [at EuroBasket 2011] nobody expected anything from us and we got praise after losses, but now a beautiful loss will not be enough to our supporters, or to us."
One of the many young players included in Bagatskis' list is Partizan Belgrade's 21-year-old forward Davis Bertans, whose participation however is doubtful.
"I very much hope that Davis did not suffer serious damage in the last game [in the Serbian league finals against Red Star Belgrade], which he did not finish due to injury," Bagatskis said.
Latest reports from Serbia however indicate that Bertans might have torn his ACL, in which case he could be sidelined for several months.
On the other hand, veteran guards Armands Skele and Kristaps Valters are not included in the squad.
While Valters, who finished the season at Spanish club Fuenlabrada, had hinted that he would not play again for the national team, Skele was hoping for a return after overcoming a serious health problem and completing a full season with Estonian club Kalev/Cramo.
Latvia will commence preparations on 18 July and start their round of warm-up games one week later, at a four-nation friendly tournament that also includes Serbia, Turkey and EuroBasket hosts Slovenia.
The Baltic nation were drawn in First Round Group B at the EuroBasket, which tips off on 4 September, together with their neighbours Lithuania, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, F.Y.R. of Macedonia and Montenegro.
Latvia EuroBasket 2013 preliminary squad:
Zanis Peiners, Edgars Jeromanovs, Janis Strelnieks, Kristaps Janicenoks, Janis Blums, Martins Laksa, Dairis Bertans, Mareks Mejeris, Rihards Kuksiks, Janis Timma, Andris Biedrins, Martins Meiers, Davis Bertans, Arturs Berzins, Rolands Freimanis, Kaspars Berzins and Andrejs Selakovs.