BERLIN (2010 FIBA World Championship) - Dirk Nowitzki has pulled out of the 2010 FIBA World Championship, dealing a major blow to the hopes of wild-card entrant Germany.
Nowitzki, who had indicated he would play when Germany were first awarded a place in this year's tournament, announced he had instead decided to focus on preparing for the new NBA season after signing a new deal with the Dallas Mavericks.
He instead pledged to play in next year's EuroBasket to help Germany try to secure a place at the 2012 London Olympics.
In confirming his decision, Nowitzki says he believes Germany are good enough to contend without him.
"I watched the young German team (at the EuroBasket) in Poland and I think that they are very talented", Nowitzki said.
"I also got to meet the team in Hamburg at the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship and I am absolutely certain that they will play a great world championship representing Germany well. Next year, I will help the team reach our big goal to participate at the Olympics again.
"I have signed a new contract with the Dallas Mavericks. We have a new team with new conditions and I want to set my focus on the next NBA season this summer."
Germany head coach Dirk Bauermann accepted Nowtizki's decision.
"I take Dirk's decisions with mixed feelings", he said. "We will of course miss Dirk in our squad. You can't replace a player like him. But we already know now that Dirk will be on board to fight for the tickets to the Olympic Games next year in Lithuania. I completely respect Dirk's decision.
"My young team has to work hard in order to impress the Basketball world with our game in the same way we have impressed Europe last year.
"This won't be easy as we are not only missing Dirk but also Patrick Femerling and Sven Schultze. But I trust my players and I am absolutely certain that they will play their heart out."
The German Basketball Federation have admitted that the loss of Nowitzki also calls into question whether his fellow NBA star Chris Kaman of the Los Angeles Clippers will also play.