Luka Doncic confirms he will join Slovenia team for Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Luka Doncic has confirmed he will join the Slovenia national basketball team at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Kaunas, Lithuania from 29 June to 4 July.
Speaking one day after his Dallas Mavericks were knocked out of the NBA playoffs by the Los Angeles Clippers, the 22-year-old star told the Dallas News: “This is my main goal: qualifying Slovenia for the Olympics. I’m going to be heading back to Slovenia and starting practising, so no vacation.”
FIBA men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament
The OQT in Lithuania is one of four that will take place at the end of June to determine the last four qualifiers for the men’s basketball tournament at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021.
The four tournaments (held in Canada, Croatia, and Serbia, in addition to Lithuania) will be contested by 24 teams, with six teams per OQT. The winner of each event will qualify for the Olympic Games to complete the 12-team field in Tokyo.
Slovenia, ranked 16th in the world, face Poland (No. 13) and Angola (No. 33) in the group stage of the tournament, with the top two of this group advancing to the knockout stages of the competition. Hosts Lithuania (No. 8), Venezuela (No. 20), and the Republic of Korea (No. 30) round out the six-team field for the OQT.
Luka Doncic returns to national duty
Doncic, who is coming off an MVP-calibre season that saw him average 27.7 points, 8 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game en route to his second consecutive All-Star nomination, last played for Slovenia at EuroBasket 2017.
At that tournament, Doncic (aged just 18 at the time) and Miami Heat point guard Goran Dragic led Slovenia to a historic gold medal - the first and only medal for Slovenia in international basketball to date.
Doncic’s return to the national team presents a major boost for Slovenia’s hopes of qualifying for their first Olympic Games, though he will need to carry his form from the NBA playoffs (where he upped his output to 35.7 points and 10.3 assists per game) to the OQT for Slovenia to have a chance at securing the sole qualifying spot on offer.