Elson out six weeks with fractured orbital bone

ALMERE, Netherlands -- San Antonio Spurs center Francisco Elson left Holland's national team Wednesday after he was diagnosed with a fractured eye socket that is expected to sideline him for six weeks.

Elson sustained the injury from an elbow to the face during the Netherlands' 77-72 European Championship victory over Belarus in Almere, near Amsterdam, last week.

He also played Saturday as the Dutch lost at Slovakia, 80-75, But medical staff became concerned when Elson complained of double vision. On Tuesday, he consulted an eye specialist in Rotterdam, who performed a scan and determined Elson had suffered a fractured orbital socket.

After consulting with the Spurs and their medical staff, the national team sent Elson home to undergo treatment from the NBA champions' doctors.

It is believed that Elson will be unable to play for six weeks. That would still allow him to join the Spurs early in their training camp.

"Six weeks is average for an injury like this," said Dutch national team doctor Erik Jager. "The scan showed he has a little fracture at the bottom of his eye socket. At that time, I said he could not play any more and Francisco called his agent, who spoke with the Spurs. They called him directly to the States. I do not think Francisco needs to have an operation but, if he does, they want him to have it there.

"Francisco is very sad about this," Jager said. "I spoke with him today and he wanted to stay here to have treatment so he could support the team. He still wants to come back in one week to support his teammates."

Elson, 31, had returned to the national team this summer, after a self-imposed absence of two years, to help the Netherlands in their attempt to win promotion to the A Division of the European Championship.

He went with the blessing of the Spurs, who hoped that the extended playing time with the national team would help him develop his game.

Elson responded, scoring 21 points and 6 rebounds, despite sustaining his injury, in the win over Belarus and 28 and 15 in the loss in Slovakia.

His absence was a blow to the Dutch, as it came hours before they took on a Great Britain team heavily favored to win the group since the recent additions of Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng and former NBA player Robert Archibald.

Great Britain won 83-64 Wednesday night, with Deng scoring all of his game-high 27 points in the first three quarters.

Elson, the seventh Dutch player to appear in the NBA, spent three seasons with the Denver Nuggets before joining the Spurs for whom he averaged 5.0 points and 4.8 rebounds over 70 games last season. During the Spurs' run to the title, Elson averaged 3.3 points and 3.1 rebounds in 20 games, including eight starts.

Ian Whittell covers the NBA for The (London) Times.