I see in Dave’s notes that Dino Meneghin, an iconic Italian star, was at the game in his role as president of the country’s basketball federation, trying to convince Bargnani, Belinelli and Gallinari to play for Italy this summer.

Word is that he didn’t get a yay or a nay from any of them and it looks like we’re headed for another summer questioning whether key Raptors should play for their countries or not.

So let’s get this out there right now: Yes, if they want to, they should. Without question.

Just like Turk should play for Turkey, Bosh for the United States, Jose for Spain and if Rasho shocks us by making a Slovenian Comeback, he should, too.

We’ll have this debate a lot, I’m sure, because the whole “they’re-main-obligation-is-to-the-team-that-pays-them-the-most” issue won’t ever really go away.

But it’s really quite a simple decision to me: Representing your country is one of the greatest things an athlete can do; I’m not sure some people understand that, but it is.

And they should.

If they want.

You can put me in the “they’re-main-obligation-is-to-the-team-that-pays-them-the-most” side of the argument. IDK but it really irks me to see players off playing in an arguably unimportant tournament and risking getting injured when they should be using that time to rest and recuperate from the rigours of a long and hard NBA season.

There are many examples of an NBA player participating in some tourney in the off season and it backfiring. Just look at Turk who played for his country in the summer and came back to the Raps unable to play because of fatigue. Did BC and management, and us fans, since we support the team in various ways (merchandising, ticket sales etc.), pay Turk $53 mil to come back and be unable to play, so he can play in some tourney he didn't really need be in? My understanding is that Turkey automatically qualified for the FIBA World's since they are the host country. Look how long it's taken him to adjust. And you can argue that he still looks out of shape. Looking into the future, how fatigued will he be after he plays at this summer's World's? By the time the 2011 playoffs come around, he'll have played 3 years straight without a break! I don't want to imagine what condition his 32 year old body will be in at that time.

Same thing with Pau Gasol. He came back from the qualifiers unable to play due to injuries and fatigue. The list goes on.

Jose decided to do the right thing this past off season and rest his oft injured body for his sake and the teams'. Kudos to Ocho for making the right decision. No doubt it was a tough one but the right one to make. IMO athlete's owe their employer who is paying them millions, to be in the best condition possible for the team.

I wish more GM's would take Mark Cuban's stance on this dilemma and just put their foot down and say no to playing in the off season. Cuban did not allow Nowitzki to play for Germany in the FIBA qualifiers this past summer. It may be an unpopular decision, but again, it is the right one imo.

Now an argument can be made for allowing younger players to participate in off season tourneys to help their development, and because they are younger their bodies can handle the load better. I might be inclined to agree-as long as there is some kind of insurance policy in place. But when it comes to the "older" high priced stars, who are integral to the team, I say no.

As for Il Mago and Belli-should they play for Italy this summer. In Il Mago's case, even though he is still young, big men's bodies tend to break down quicker, so I say let him rest. He logs heavy minutes throughout the season and is developing nicely without having to play for his country. Belli on the other does not log heavy minutes and playing for Italy might help him develop and refine his skills. I would still be cautious about letting one of the Raps "core" players go.

What are your guy's thoughts on this dilemma? Should players be allowed to participate in off season tourneys to fulfill the need of national pride at the risk of getting injured? Should it be determined on a case by case basis? What are you two cents?