TAYLORSVILLE Jazz rookie Kosta Koufos' hopes for playing in the Olympic Games remain alive, as do those of Jazz 2008 second-round draft choice Ante Tomic.
The American-born Koufos holds dual U.S.-Greek citizenship, but the 19-year-old chose to play for the Jazz's entry in the Rocky Mountain Revue NBA summer league rather than for Greece in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Athens.
Greece beat the Puerto Rican team of ex-Jazz point guard Carlos Arroyo 88-63 in a FIBA semifinal game Saturday, earning a berth at next month's Summer Games in Beijing. Croatia beat Germany 76-70 despite a 30-point, 13-rebound showing from Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki in the other semi and qualified as well.
Puerto Rico, which according to an Associated Press report lost Orlando Magic free agent Arroyo to a torn leg muscle, will play Germany today for the last Olympic invite.
Koufos probably won't learn until sometime later this week if he'll be added to Greece's Olympic roster, though he has consistently said since the Jazz selected him out of Ohio State with the 23rd overall pick in last June's NBA Draft that the possibility remains open.
On one hand, he's widely regarded as Greece's best big man.
But, on the other, his age and his absence from the qualifying tourney could make him a national-club candidate only for the future.
"They're a great team," Koufos who had a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double, but shot just 3-of-11 from the field, in Saturday's Revue loss to Atlanta said of Greece's now Olympic-bound national squad. "I'm happy for them. I wish the best for them right now, and I know they'll make a great run in the Olympics.
"Right now my focus is on the Utah Jazz," he added Saturday.
"I'm not thinking about Greece right now. But Greece has been a wonderful opportunity for me."
Tomic, meanwhile, didn't play for Croatia's entry in the qualifier at least in part, it's believed, because he went to New York to prepare for last month's draft rather than remain with the national team. But indications Saturday were that it's still possible Croatia will add the 7-foot-1 center to its roster now that it is Olympic-qualified.
Utah has no plans to bring Tomic to the NBA next season, incidentally, and officials from his KK Zagreb club in Croatia reportedly said in the draft's immediate aftermath that it wants to keep him under contract for two more years.
He's not playing in the Revue. The Jazz already have three Olympians: Team USA teammates Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer, and Russian star Andrei Kirilenko.
Ex-Jazz point guard Raul Lopez will play his native Spain, but the Brazilian team of ex-Jazz center Rafael Araujo was eliminated from Olympic contention by Germany in the FIBA tourney's quarterfinal round.
IRAN, IRAN: More than a hundred or so members of the local Iranian community and their supporters chanted, waved flags and made their presence felt Saturday at Salt Lake Community College's Lifetime Activities Center, where Iran's Olympic team opened Revue play with a 79-62 loss to the Dallas Mavericks summer-league team.
Some in the small but vocal crowd even had their faces painted green, red and white in support of the FIBA Asia-champion national team, which will cap a week's worth of pre-Olympic training in America with Monday night's Revue game against the Jazz.
While here, members of the Iranian team also have practiced and scrimmaged in Utah County, visited outlet stores near Park City and even attended the Days of '47 Rodeo at EnergySolutions Arena.
On the court, they pushed the pace but couldn't keep up with the Dallas summer-leaguers and threw their arms up in frustration when the Mavs were awarded a free throw on an NBA defensive 3-seconds technical foul call that the Iranians and their Serbian coach seemingly did not understand. Security was extra-tight at the junior-college gym, where even those entering through a private media/player/staff entrance were checked for weapons.
Iran played without its injured usual starting point guard and without ill 7-foot-5 center Jaber Rouzbahani who made himself eligible for, but was not selected in, the 2004 NBA Draft.
It's uncertain if Rouzbahani, who apparently is battling a cold, will play Monday against the Jazz. Next month, Iran will play in Beijing its first Olympic men's basketball appearance since 1948.
SHOWCASE COMING: The NBA Development League's Jazz-affiliated Utah Flash are expected to announce Monday that they will host the fifth annual NBA D-League Showcase at Utah Valley University's McKay Center in Orem.The four-day event in January offers exposure for D-League players and coaches to scouts and general managers from franchises throughout the NBA.
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