MADRID (EuroBasket) – Toronto Raptors point guard Jose Calderon is hoping to play at a third straight Olympics with Spain.
Los Chicos de Oro can punch their ticket for the London Games by reaching the EuroBasket Final this summer in Lithuania.
"The EuroBasket this year is very important and more so for qualifying for the Olympics, which will make it all the more special,” Calderon said.
“Each year is more complicated because everyone wants to play.
“Moreover, this year you have 24 national teams and it will be beautiful.”
FIBA Europe last summer decided to expand the tournament from 16 to 24 teams.
In terms of squad make-up, a couple of names are being mentioned as newcomers for Spain.
Serge Ibaka, the African center who played basketball at ACB side Manresa and is now a star big man with Oklahoma City, could be up for selection if he obtains a Spanish passport.
Real Madrid’s Nikola Mirotic is another.
The Montenegrin-born forward is just 20 years of age and represented the country last year at the U20 European Championship.
He will be with Madrid when they compete at the Final Four this weekend in Barcelona.
"The coach will have to decide but Ibaka, just like Mirotic, would be welcome and I am delighted if there are new players,” Calderon said.
“Ibaka is a great player that can score, can make incredible blocks.
“He is a great defender and would be a very important addition to the national team.
“I have not seen Mirotic much but according to what the press says and when I speak to (Calderon’s former Baskonia teammates Pablo) Prigioni, (Sergi) Vidal and (Spain guard Sergio) Llull, I know he is playing very well.
“That is why it's going to be very difficult for the national team coach.”
Calderon is coming off a strong season in the NBA with the Toronto Raptors.
He was in Spain’s squad for the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey but had to withdraw a week before the competition with an injury.
Spain will play in Group A at the EuroBasket with Turkey, hosts Lithuania, Great Britain, Poland and one of the two sides that emerges from the Additional Qualifying Round.