According to the website Marca.com (a Spanish sports news outlet), Denver Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic has been pre-selected to the Serbian National Team for the second stage of the World Cup Qualifiers. H/t to Sportando for the the news.
Serbia name five NBAers in preliminary squad for FIBA WC qualifiers in September (Bogdanovic, Bjelica, Teodosic, Marjanovic and Jokic)https://t.co/EnRUV5Uau5— Sportando (@Sportando) August 22, 2018
Now, it’s important to point out that this does NOT mean Jokic will be playing in the World Cup Qualifiers this fall. In total, Serbia pre-selected 24 players for the second round of qualifiers but obviously, they will not have 24 players on the roster when it comes time to play the games. Think of this as similar to USA Basketball’s 35 player pool that they name even though only 12 players make the actual roster for international competition.
No doubt, Serbian head coach Aleksandar Djordjevic is covering all bases here by adding Jokic just in case he can play. Most of the second round of qualifiers will occur during the NBA season though so obviously he won’t be playing in those, but Serbia does have two games in September that are likely to occur prior to the open of NBA training camps so technically Jokic could play. Fellow Serbian and NBA player Boban Marjanovic has been playing in the qualifiers over the summer.
However, given those games will be within weeks of the start of NBA training camp, and given that Serbia is in good position to qualify, it seems unlikely that Jokic would play. Still, he’s been in Serbia over the offseason and working with both Denver Nuggets teammates and Serbian National Team teammates in the Basketball without Borders camp in Belgrade so it’s likely Jokic has had some conversations with his compatriots about the upcoming qualifiers. Additionally, while Serbia is in a strong position to qualify, their next game is against Greece who is undefeated and leading the qualifiers pool. Having Jokic for that huge matchup certainly would help, I wouldn’t count on it though.