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Nowitzki: main goal is now NBA championship

Dirk Nowitzki of Germany (L) and U.S. assistant coach Jim Boeheim (R) have their photo taken after the men's Group B basketball game at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 18, 2008. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

BEIJING (Reuters) - Germany’s Dirk Nowitzki said he planned to retire from international basketball -- at least for a few years -- after his team was knocked out of the Olympics tournament.

“I achieved my first goal -- playing basketball for Germany in the Olympics,” Nowitzki told journalists after the 106-57 loss to the unbeaten U.S. team. They were eliminated with just one win, against Angola, in their five matches.

“Now my main goal is to win the NBA championship,” the all-star forward for the Dallas Mavericks said. “We’ll have to wait and see how things develop with Germany in the years ahead.”

Germany had not qualified for the Olympics in 16 years. Nowitzki spent his off-seasons playing for his country for the last 10 years in pursuit of his childhood dream of playing at the Olympics. Germany just missed the Olympics in 2000 and 2004.

“I don’t want to make any concrete plans right now,” he said. “But I knew when I came off the court tonight that it was the last time for a couple of years. So from that point of view it was a wonderful feeling to go out on a high note.”

Nowitzki, the first European player to win the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award, did not want to rule out a return even though he appeared melancholy about the end of an era. He said he would not play the European championship in Poland next summer.

“Everything’s still open, but I think I need a break,” he said.

Asked if he would play for Germany in the 2012 Olympics, Nowitzki said: “If we were to qualify for that, I’d be happy to talk about the question. I think the difficult thing will be to qualify. It’s been 16 years since the last time.”

Editing by Jeremy Laurence