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Published 10:28 IST, June 6th 2024

Luka Doncic says he’ll play for Slovenia in Olympic qualifying, knees permitting

Luka Doncic has playing in next month’s Paris Olympics in his plans, provided his knees allow him to go through more games and help Slovenia qualify.

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Luka Doncic with Magic Johnson trophy for being the Western Conference Finals MVP | Image: AP
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Luka Doncic has playing in next month’s Paris Olympics in his plans, provided his knees allow him to go through more games and help Slovenia qualify shortly after a season in which he and the Dallas Mavericks made it all the way to the NBA Finals.

Slovenia on Wednesday released a list of 16 players including Doncic who are candidates to be on the team that will play in an Olympic qualifying tournament in Greece starting on July 2. If Slovenia wins that tournament — Greece, the Dominican Republic, New Zealand, Croatia and Egypt are also in the field — it will be among the 12-team men’s field at the Paris Games that start in late July.

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“If it’s good, I’m going to go play,” Doncic said Wednesday at NBA Finals media day in Boston, saying the knee issue that he’s been playing through in the playoffs would be the only foreseeable obstacle.

Doncic has represented Slovenia on a number of international stages, including the Tokyo Olympics that were moved back to 2021 because of the pandemic. He’s played in EuroBasket twice, plus played for Slovenia in last year’s World Cup — that tournament ending only a few weeks before the Mavericks opened training camp for this season.

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The league’s reigning scoring champion was told Wednesday that, depending on the length of the NBA Finals, he would be playing between 90 and 95 games this season. Doncic views the number as even higher.

“More games,” Doncic said. “You forgot World Cup before the season.”

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If the series between Dallas and the Boston Celtics goes the full seven games, Doncic would still be playing on June 23. Slovenia has an exhibition to warm up for the tournament in Greece against Brazil on June 28, so it’s possible that Doncic may go from playing for club to playing for country in the same week.

Doncic scored 48 points in his Olympic debut game in 2021, tying for the second most in any men’s Olympic game and finishing seven shy of matching the record of 55 set by Brazil’s Oscar Schmidt in 1988.

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There are eight teams already with berths for the 12-team Olympic men’s field. France qualified as the host nation, and seven other teams — the four-time defending gold medalist U.S., World Cup champion Germany, Canada, Japan, South Sudan, Serbia and Australia — qualified based on their finishes at last summer’s World Cup in the Philippines.

Slovenia is one of 24 teams that’ll compete from July 2-7 for the other four spots. There are four qualifying tournaments, with six nations in each, and the winners from those four sites will make it to the Paris Olympics.

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10:28 IST, June 6th 2024