Nikola Jokic included on Team Serbia preliminary Olympics roster

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has been named to the preliminary 16-man roster for the Serbian national team for the Paris Olympics, according to the country’s basketball federation. This announcement puts to rest any uncertainty surrounding Jokic’s participation in the tournament.

Despite being crowned the NBA MVP for the third time in May, Jokic has not publicly confirmed his plans to represent his national team in the Olympics. When asked about it after the Nuggets’ playoff exit in the second round, he remained undecided.

“I don’t know, my friend. We will see,” Jokic said at the time. “I need to think about it.”

Although Jokic recently competed for Serbia in the 2022 EuroBasket tournament, he opted out of the 2023 FIBA World Cup, citing the demanding NBA season schedule. The playoffs typically run until mid-June for teams that make it to the NBA Finals.
However, this year, Jokic’s offseason began earlier than anticipated. The Denver Nuggets suffered a devastating loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a Game 7, squandering a 20-point lead that would have propelled them to the Western Conference finals. Shortly after, in early June, Jokic was spotted enjoying a river-rafting trip with his friends in his home country of Serbia, where he prefers to spend his offseason.

The preliminary roster for the Serbian national team, handpicked by coach Svetislav Pesic, includes several other NBA players such as Bogdan Bogdanovic (Atlanta Hawks), Nikola Jovic (Miami Heat), Vasilije Micic (Charlotte Hornets), and Aleksej Pokusevski (Hornets).

Furthermore, Nuggets assistant coach Ognjen Stojakovic will be returning to the national team’s coaching staff for the Olympics, as confirmed in an interview with The Denver Post. Stojakovic made his debut on Pesic’s staff during last year’s World Cup, where they secured a FIBA silver medal after a hard-fought final against Germany.
Serbia has secured a spot in the 12-team Olympic tournament after their impressive silver-medal run. The tournament will be held in Lille and Paris. Their first group stage game is scheduled for July 28 against a star-studded United States roster featuring NBA superstars such as Joel Embiid, LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant. The group also includes South Sudan, while the fourth team is yet to be determined as qualifying tournaments are still underway leading up to the Paris Games.

Jamal Murray, the point guard for the Nuggets, has verbally committed to representing the Canadian national team. Canada will be grouped with Australia and two other teams in the Olympic tournament. Additionally, Vlatko Cancar, the power forward for the Nuggets, is expected to make a comeback from a torn ACL to contribute to Slovenia’s Olympic qualifying tournament, as confirmed by general manager Calvin Booth in May.

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