The Slovenia Times

Dončić joins national team for Olympic qualifying

NBA superstar Luka Dončić sings autographs for fans at Ljubljana's Stožice Arena in August 2023. Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA

Slovenian basketball star Luka Dončić has ended weeks of uncertainty over whether he will join the national team for the Olympic qualifying tournament by showing up for team practice on 24 June.

The news was announced by the National Basketball Association (KZS) with a video posted on social media in which Dončić, fresh from playing in the NBA finals with his Dallas Mavericks, is seen arriving at the team's hotel in Ljubljana.

"We are finally complete and now the preparations can begin. I'm happy to see Luka joining the team, as he promised after the conference finals in Minneapolis," KZS president Matej Erjavec said at the national team's training at Stožice Arena.

"He is obviously in good health, his only condition [for joining the national team for the Olympic qualifying] having been to be physically fit," Erjavec added.

Dončić suffered injuries during the NBA playoffs, where his team had to concede defeat to the Boston Celtics in game 5 of the finals a week ago. He had a slight limp in the video posted by the KZS.

He is expected to hit the court in Ljubljana for a friendly matchup with Brazil on 28 June. Before that the national team will host Lithuania for a second friendly on 25 June after losing the first one in Vilnius two days ago.

The team will then head to the Olympic tournament in Greece. With Denver Nuggets small forward Vlatko Čančar and Cedevita Olimpija small forward Edo Murić having recovered from their injuries, head coach Aleksander Sekulić currently has 15 players to pick from, including naturalised players Mike Tobey and Josh Nebo.

He will make his final selection for the Olympic tournament just before departure, the Basketball Association said.

"In Vilnius, we played a pretty good game in a good atmosphere against a quality team. I think we saw some good things, including what we need to improve or correct. We can definitely play much better," Sekulić said.

"We wanted to see especially Nebo, as well as Čančar and Murić. The response was good, like from the rest of the players who hit the court. They all proved they deserve the Slovenia jersey," the head coach added.


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