Carter ready to light it up Down Under

All USA Basketball had to do was ask
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The Independent Online

Vince Carter decided on Friday to accept an invitation to replace injured Tom Gugliotta on U.S. Olympic team for the Sydney Games .

"He's going," Dave Haggith, a spokesman for the NBA Toronto Raptors, said. "It's just a matter of dotting the i's and crossing the t's. It doesn't become official until two days from now."

In a conference call on Thursday, the selection committee decided unanimously to offer the spot to Carter after Gugliotta was forced to withdraw because of reconstructive knee surgery. Carter received the invitation on Thursday night.

Craig Miller, spokesman for USA Basketball, said a contract and other forms were being forwarded to the player selected by the committee.

"This takes more than a day. We anticipate an announcement early next week," Miller said.

Carter was angered in January when USA Basketball passed him over in favour of Ray Allen of the Milwaukee Bucks.

After the snub, Carter went on a tear. He was the leading vote-getter for the All-Star game and won the slam dunk competition. Then he scored 51 points in Toronto's first appearance on network television, nearly had a triple double in a game in New York and won two games in a week with 3-point buzzer-beaters.

"Vince really earned it. They said he wasn't good enough," Toronto coach Butch Carter said. "When I talked to him about what it's going to feel like when he walks into the Olympic stadium during opening ceremonies, it brought a huge smile to his face."

Despite the January snub, the opportunity to represent his country was too much to pass up. Carter had planned on finishing up his degree this summer at the University of North Carolina, but he'll likely have to put those plans on hold.

"He's had to do a lot of rescheduling, so its something that's important to him," Haggith said.

Carter said talk of him making the Olympics has distracted him lately.

"It's tough to stay focused when people are putting emphasis on the wrong things," said Carter, who scored just 18 points on 4-for-16 shooting in a loss to Charlotte on Friday. "I can't think about it now. I'll worry about it when the season is over. I have enough problems with trying to win games and reach 40 wins. Sooner or later this will be over and I'll just worry about the Raptors."

The paperwork will be handled by his mother. She is taking care of Carter's business affairs after he split with agent William "Tank" Black. The agent is being sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for violating securities laws.