Nene to join Brazil's national team

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) - Denver Nuggets forward Nene said Tuesday he will end a four-year absence and rejoin Brazil's national team for this summer's Olympic qualifier.

"I talked a lot with my family and my team, and I realized that it was time to come back," Nene said in a statement distributed by his public relations manager, Samy Vaisman. "I want to be happy with the national team and want to help Brazil secure a spot in the Olympics."

The top two finishers in the FIBA Americas tournament from Aug. 22-Sept. 2 in Las Vegas will clinch a spot in Beijing in 2008. The Brazilians, who nearly beat the United States in an exhibition game last summer, should have one of the strongest teams.

Nene, who will not play in next month's Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, has been at odds with the Brazilian Basketball Confederation, saying it owes him money. The forward skipped the 2006 world championships, reportedly for the same reason.

"Whatever happened before is in the past and my focus now is to help and defend my country," he added. "Brazilian basketball needs help, and this is the right time to try to save it."

Brazil finished 17th in the worlds and did not qualify for the last two Olympics. The country has won seven gold medals at the Pan American Games.

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