By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
NBA superstar Nikola Jokic won’t be suiting up for the Serbian national basketball team in the upcoming FIBA World Cup in Manila.
ESPN announced the recent development last July 24, 2023, and added that the recently crowned NBA champion will be using the off-season to recover from their great playoff campaign.
It will be a huge blow to his Filipino fans as Serbia is set to play in Manila when they were drawn in Group B together with China, Puerto Rico, and South Sudan.
Before the FIBA draw, Jokic is expected to boost Serbia and help the squad end years of heartbreak on the international hoops stage.
Serbia was close to clinching the FIBA World Cup championship title last 2014 edition but the mighty United States stood in their way.
The next FIBA stage last 2019 also didn’t favor Serbia’s direction as they failed to punch a grand finals ticket and could only watch Spain and Argentina duke it out for all the marbles.
Jokic previously served for the Serbian national team three-straight times from 2016-2022, a window when he was still trying to make a name for himself in the NBA.
The smart center then continued to blossom under the wings of Denver Nuggets’ head coach Michael Malone and has already won two Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards and an NBA Finals MVP trophy.
With Jokic out for the Serbian squad, veteran shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic of the Atlanta Hawks will try to lead the team to the title.
Backstopping the sweet-shooting Bogdanovic is Oklahoma City Thunder’s young swingman Aleksej Pokusevski and Miami Heat sophomore Nikola Jovic.