New York, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving would make a decision shortly about whether he would opt to play for Australia at the London Olympics.
Irving, who was born in Australia while his father was playing in Melbourne and holds dual U.S. and Australian citizenship, has justified his choice as number one overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft with a sparkling rookie season.
Australia selectors have made no secret of their interest in the 19-year-old, who is averaging 18.3 points and 5.1 assists per game after leaving Duke University for the NBA, and Irving has expressed interest in playing in the London Games.
“I‘m not sure, it’s still up in the air. I haven’t made a decision yet,” he told reporters before Cleveland’s game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. “You’ll probably hear about it in the next week or so what decision I make.”
Irving would face a technical hurdle to joining the Australians since he represented the U.S. at the under-18 level last year and would have to appeal to the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to switch his eligibility.
Coupled with that is the fact the U.S. Olympic team head coach is Duke University’s Mike Krzyzewski.
Irving said Krzyzewski has encouraged him to play for the U.S. Select team, which serves as a feeder programme for the Olympic squad and could pave the way for him to make the U.S. team for the 2016 Games in Rio.
“We’ve talked about it a little bit. We haven’t gone into details,” he said. “It’s up to me.”
Despite an abundance of point guards, including Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams, available for a U.S., Irving admitted that a future chance to play Olympic basketball for the country was a factor.
“Oh yeah, definitely. That weighs on it,” he added. “(But) what’s best for me and my family and my career, that’s what it’s about.”
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