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Good news for Latvia: Bertans says all systems go

RIGA (FIBA EuroBasket 2017) – Latvia fans got the news they had been waiting for a long time, as San Antonio Spurs forward Davis Bertans confirmed his availability for FIBA EuroBasket 2017 after a five-year break.

The 24-year-old forward announced his decision via a video post on Instagram, pulling off his Spurs training shirt only to unveil the carmine red Latvia jersey underneath.

Davis Bertans (LAT) - Photo courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images
"It has been five years since I last put on the national team jersey," Bertans wrote. "During that time, I've gone through two surgeries, difficult rehabilitation and played for three different teams, but I always wanted to put on this shirt again in the summer.

"I’m back and ready to help."

When he last represented Latvia in the FIBA EuroBasket 2013 Qualifiers, Bertans was still just a lanky, largely unproven up-and-coming teenage prospect with a mesmerizingly sweet stroke from downtown.

Six years removed, only slightly less lanky, the Latvian player is now enjoying life as part of the storied Spurs organization in the NBA, with his role increasing under coach Gregg Popovich throughout the rookie campaign.

However, not suiting up for the national team during his monumental rise to the top wasn't a choice of desire, but rather of necessity, as two serious ACL injuries on his right knee, first in 2013 and later in 2015, threatened to derail his career.

After being forced to take one step back, Bertans always took two steps forwards, as his rise continued in spite of spending more time rehabbing than playing basketball during the time.

In his only previous Final Round appearance at FIBA EuroBasket 2011, Bertans averaged 5.6 points and 2.0 rebounds per game for his country, as Latvia lost all five games and finished dead last in pool play.

Things have changed. He now enters FIBA EuroBasket 2017 as part of a new, much-improved and, most importantly, extremely talented core of Latvian players, headlined by New York Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis.

Surrounded by a copious amount of exciting talent in every single position, the country's NBA players, eager to team up for the very first time, will make Latvia a force to be reckoned with this summer.

Porzingis, Bertans and company will play in the Istanbul-based Group D, where they will encounter the national teams of Belgium, Great Britain, Russia, Serbia and the hosts, Turkey in the Group Phase.

Source: http://www.fiba.com/eurobasket/2017/news/good-news-for-latvia-bertans-says-all-systems-go

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