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    Will Jokic, Bogdanovic be back to haunt Gilas in OQT?

    Jun 1, 2021
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño

    LEADING NBA MVP contender Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets spearheads a powerhouse 25-man pool put together by Serbia for the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade.

    The availability of the 6-foot-11 center will largely hinge on how far the Nuggets will get in the ongoing NBA playoffs.

    Denver, holding the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, is currently tied in its first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.

    Regardless of Jokic's availability, though, Serbia head coach Igor Kokoskov is spoiled for choice as The Eagles aim to claim the lone ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in their home qualifier.

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    Also called up by Serbia were Atlanta Hawks' Bogdan Bogdanovic, the Dallas Mavericks' Boban Marjanovic, Miami Heat's Nemanja Bjelica, Oklahoma City Thunder's Aleksej Pokusevski, and the Golden State Warriors' Alen Smailagic.

    National team mainstays Milos Teodosic, Vasilije Micic, and Miroslav Raduljica were also called up as well as youth team standout Filip Petrusev.

    Jokic, Bogdanovic, Marjanovic, Bjelica, and Raduljica were around when Serbia dealt Gilas Pilipinas a 126-67 beating in the group stage of the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China.

    Not only did Serbia beat Yeng Guiao's Gilas by 59 points, its former coach Sasha Djordjevic accused Filipino guard Paul Lee of 'playing dirty' and chided the Philippines for its 'lack of quality.'

    Like Jokic, Bogdanovic's Atlanta Hawks and Marjanovic's Dallas Mavericks are still in the thick of the NBA playoffs battle.

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      Completing the pool were Danilo Andjusic, Aleksa Avramovic, Dejan Davidovac, Ognjen Dobric, Marko Guduric, Dalibor Ilic, Ognjen Jaramaz, Stefan Jovic, Nikola Kalinic, Branko Lazic, Vladimir Lucic, Vanja Marinkovic, Dragan Milosavljevic, Nikola Milutinov, and Nemanja Nedovic.

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      Serbia is the favorite to come out of the Belgrade OQT and is slotted in Group A together with Gilas Pilipinas and Dominican Republic. Puerto Rico, Italy, and Senegal are in Group B.

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        Only the winner of the Belgrade OQT will book a ticket to the Tokyo Games, the same for the victors of the OQTs in Split, Croatia; Victoria, Canada; and Kaunas, Lithuania, with games to be held from June 29 to July 4.

        Host Japan, 2016 Olympic gold winner USA, World Cup gold medalist Spain, as well as Argentina, France, Australia, Nigeria, and Iran have already qualified for the men's tournament in Tokyo.

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        PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño
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