New Zealand's Breakers and the Tall Blacks have confirmed they are courting Kiwi NBA forward Sean Marks.
The 34-year-old, 12-year professional is one of two New Zealander's to get court time in the world's premier basketball competition having spent time with six NBA franchises, including the last two seasons with the New Orleans Hornets.
Kirk Penney had a 10-day stint with the Miami Heat in 2003 and four games for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Marks' close mate and Tall Blacks assistant coach Dillon Boucher revealed to Sportal on Monday he and head coach Nenad Vucinic expected to hear within the next week how Marks was recovering from shoulder surgery, which would determine whether he would come out of retirement for the World Championships in Turkey in August.
"It's a define possibility," Boucher said. "Inviting him with open arms is all we can offer. We want him and he would be a key for us in the World Championships. But he has to be in the right frame of mind, that includes his body. We want him to want to be there, not just come because everyone wants him there."
Marks was an incredible athlete who could shoot the ball, had leadership and was someone that would fit perfectly into the Tall Blacks systems, Boucher said.
Breakers officials have also confirmed they approached Marks for the upcoming ANBL season, but understood the 2.08 metre, 113kg power-forward or centre was awaiting the finalisation of NBA rosters that would conclude in the next week.
"He's playing day in, day out against the world's top players, which is something on this side of the world we struggle to get. All the top players are in Europe and America," Boucher said.
Marks, a Rangitoto College product, was a part of New Zealand's phenomenal fourth placing at the World Championships in 2002, seen by many as one of the great underdog performances in New Zealand sport's history. He was also a member of the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games squads before retiring from the national team.
When Marks was not present at the last World Championships in 2006, New Zealand finished eighth after winning two of its six matches.
New Zealand announces its squad to travel to Turkey on July 25th following a two-day trial in Auckland and Boucher believed it had the ability to mount a serious challenge.
"There's no reason why we can't put a team together to do as well – if not better than what happened in 2002," he said. "It's going to be hard, but we go to these tournaments to win. We've seen it in the football. Everyone's excited about the All Whites getting draws – you can't get a draw in basketball. We have to win."
A spot would also be left open for Wellington player/coach Pero Cameron, who did not play this year because of a foot injury.
"Having Pero on the team at 60 percent is a lot better than having someone at 100 percent," Boucher said. "His leadership, experience and decision making are crucial ingredients to getting wins at big tournaments. If for some reason he isn't able to get his body right he's going to be a huge loss."
Meanwhile, Spain was dealt a huge blow to its title aspirations with arguably the best European basketball player, NBA champion LA Lakers forward Pau Gasol, deciding to take a rest after 10 consecutive representative seasons.