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Nikola Jokic not on Serbia’s preliminary FIBA World Cup roster

Nikola Jokic

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - SEPTEMBER 02: Nikola Jokic of Serbia during the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 group D match between Serbia and Netherlands at O2 Arena Prague on September 2, 2022 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Pedja Milosavljevic/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

DeFodi Images via Getty Images

NBA Finals MVP Nikola Jokic was not on Serbia’s list of 20 roster finalists announced Monday for the FIBA men’s basketball World Cup that starts in one month.

Serbian media reported on Sunday that Jokic told the head coach he was unavailable to play.

The 28-year-old’s absence isn’t a shock given he led the Denver Nuggets to the NBA title, meaning his extended season ran to June 12.

It’s common for NBA superstars to skip the World Cup, especially those whose teams make deep playoff runs. This year’s U.S. roster has zero All-NBA players.

At last year’s European Championship, a Jokic-led Serbia was upset by Italy in the round of 16. Jokic’s 32 points and 13 rebounds were not enough.

In 2021, Jokic did not play for Serbia in Olympic qualifying. The Serbians then failed to qualify for Tokyo, losing a winner-take-all game to Italy in Belgrade.

Jokic did play for Serbia at the 2016 Olympics (held to six points and four rebounds in the gold-medal game loss to the U.S.) and the 2019 World Cup (quarterfinal loss to Argentina, consolation win over the U.S.).

The top two European nations at the World Cup qualify for the Paris Games. Others advance to last-chance Olympic qualification tournaments next year, likely in June.