Jokic won't play for Serbia in Olympic qualifying or Tokyo
Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic announced he won't be joining Serbia for this month's FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament or in Tokyo should the national team qualify, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times.
"To my great regret, this is the moment when I have to announce that despite my great desire, I am not able to play for the national team," Jokic said in a statement, per Eurohoops' Antigoni Zachari, citing Serbian outlet Tanjug. "Simply, the condition of my body requires a longer absence from the court to recover. I have to accept that. I am sure that the guys have the quality to make a result without me, which will bring us all a lot of joy."
The reigning MVP played in each of the Nuggets' 109 games since the NBA returned in the bubble Aug. 1. He averaged a career-high 26.4 points, 10.8 boards, and 8.3 assists while logging the third-most total minutes in the Association this past season.
Serbia is hosting the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament, which also includes the Dominican Republic, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Italy, and Senegal. Only the winning country will secure a spot at this summer's Olympics.
Serbia head coach Igor Kokoskov said Wednesday that Golden State Warriors big man Alen Smailagic and Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Aleksej Pokusevski are also unavailable, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.