basketball FIBA World Cup

Will Nikola Jokic play at FIBA World Cup 2023?

The 19th edition of the FIBA World Cup will take place from August 25th to September 10th in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia. As the 32 national basketball teams battle for supremacy some of the top NBA stars opted to play but others opted to rest ahead of the new NBA season. Here we take a look at the situation of the freshly crowned NBA Finals MVP and first-time NBA Champion Serb Nikola Jokic from the Denver Nuggets.

Nikola Jokic Serbia scaled
(Photo by Pedja Milosavljevic/DeFodi Images) – Photo by Icon sport

Nikola Jokic and his achievements in a Serbia shirt

Nikola Jokic, or as he is also known The Joker, started representing his home country Serbia at a very young age. Back in 2013, he led the U19 team to the silver medals of the U19 World Cup. He then guided the senior national team to another silver medal during the 2016 Rio Olympics.

This remains Nikola Jokic’s biggest achievement so far in a Serbian shirt as despite his heroics during the last FIBA World Cup in 2019 his team didn’t do that well there. Nikola was still one of the best players of that tournament though and he finished 2nd in overall rankings for True Shooting with an impressive 75.4%. This is how impactful and influential the Joker is for Serbia.

Will the Joker play for Serbia at the FIBA World Cup?

Nikola Jokic and his Denver Nuggets played a long NBA season that finished only in June. Jokic was a key figure in Denver’s title-winning season and he was heavily involved in most matches. The Joker won the NBA Finals MVP too in his first-ever NBA Finals appearance. All that took a lot of energy and mental resources to achieve so naturally Nikola Jokic opted out of the 2023 FIBA World Cup as he said he needs more rest to recover ahead of the new NBA season.

Serbia’s head coach Svetislav Pesic was expecting that and he showed understanding: “With [Nikola] Jokic, we had several conversations, and I must say they were some of the best conversations I’ve had with players who couldn’t make it to the roster. He’s physically and mentally exhausted, not feeling ready to take responsibility at the moment.”

Are Serbia a contender then?

Nikola Jokic is Serbia’s best player. Without him on the roster, the Serbs are no longer seen as title contenders but they could still go deep in the tournament as there are plenty of other quality players in their ranks.

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About the author


Iskra had a promising, at least she believed so, tennis and volleyball careers as a junior but a series of injuries ended her hopes to become a professional athlete very early.

Instead, she focused all her energy on her other passion, writing. For over a decade, Iskra had been a freelance sports writer. Football, basketball and tennis are the main fields of her expertise.