If Georgia wants to qualify for the London 2012 games, it would seem they will have to do it without Zaza Pachulia.
The Hawks center suffered a leg injury (via probasketballtalk) in a match against Bulgaria and will be out the rest of the tournament. A huge blow to the Georgian squad who are already on shaky ground to make it to the Olympics.
Pachulia was averaging 13.6 points, shooting 85.7% from the free-throw line, and 4.4 rebounds in Lithuania as Georgia barely made it to the second round thanks in large part to his solid play. However, with the loss of the big man, it is highly unlikely Georgia will make it in the knockout round. Without Pachulia, team leaders Victor Sanikidze and Manuchar Markoishvili will have to pick up the slack for Georgia.
However, for Hawks fans this probably doesn’t sit well. Many NBA teams who have international talent have to face the fact that these players will want to play well into the summer and represent their home country. The risk of injury and fatigue heading into the new season comes with the territory when players such as Pachulia play over the summer.
On one hand, NBA fans may want their team’s players to rest and heal up for the new season. On the other hand, can you blame a player who wants to represent their home country and get a shot at Olympic gold? I can’t.
But fret not, Hawks fans. With the lockout, offseason and the fact Pachulia isn’t playing anymore for Georgia, he will have plenty of time to heal.
Currently, Georgia is 2-3 at Eurobasket and will next face Macedonia (4-1) tomorrow.