Serbia will leave no stone unturned in its bid to make it to Tokyo through the 2021 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade.
Familiar faces make up the 25-man pool for the June 29 to July 4 event, as unveiled by the Basketball Federation of Serbia (KSS) Monday evening (Manila time).
Majority of the players who competed in the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China have returned for another tour of duty. Spearheading them are NBA players Nikola Jokic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Boban Marjanovic, and Nemanja Bjelica.
Jokic, a favorite to win the NBA MVP award, is currently busy leading the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Playoffs. The same goes for both Bogdanovic (Atlanta Hawks) and Boban Marjanovic (Dallas Mavericks).
Vasilije Micic is among those returning. He comes in with much confidence after winning the Euroleague title with Anadolu Efes. That victory capped off a season that saw him win Season MVP and Final Four MVP honors.
Also coming back are national team stalwarts Miroslav Raduljica, Marko Guduric, Stefan Jovic, and Nikola Milutinov, along with Nemanja Nedovic, Nikola Kalinic, Vladimir Lucic, and Dragan Milosavljevic.
Serbian star Milos Teodosic is also in the squad. The former Euroleague MVP and NBA pro will provide the much-needed playmaking for the powerhouse crew. Serbia badly missed that in the World Cup, where it finished fifth.
Completing the cast are NBA rookie Aleksej Pokusevski, Vanja Marinkovic, Alen Smailagic, Dalibor Ilic, Filip Petrushev, Dejan Davidovac, Ognjen Dobric, Branko Lazic, Ognjen Jaramaz, Danilo Andjusic, and Aleksa Avramovic.
Serbia, mentored by Igor Kokoskov, is in Group A together with the youth-laden Gilas Pilipinas and the Dominican Republic. Group B, meanwhile, consists of Puerto Rico, Italy, and Senegal.
Serbia last faced Gilas back in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. It bludgeoned the Philippines, 67-126.
Bjelica led seven Serbians in double-digits in the game with 20 points in just 16 minutes of action. Jokic had 11 points on a perfect 5-of-5 clip with seven rebounds and seven assists in the contest.
Every Serbian played fielded was able to score.
As per the KSS’ announcement, the national team will gather on June 12 in Belgrade. Part of their build-up for the cagefest is the Acropolis Cup in Greece; then a tuneup days before the commencement of the tilt.