Warriors Floor-Spacer Set to Ball Out on the International Stage

Nemanja Bjelica Serbia

Getty Serbian big man Nemanja Bjelica handles the ball during an Olympic qualifying bout with Italy.

Fifteen years after beginning his pro hoops career in Austria with the Arkadia Traiskirchen Lions and eight years after capturing a Turkish BSL title with Fenerbahce Ulker, Nemanja Bjelica finally reached the pinnacle of the sport this summer, helping the Golden State Warriors win their seventh NBA championship.

However, the sharpshooting big man has one last hill to climb before he can fully round out his trophy case.  Although Bjelica already has a pair of silver medals from representing his native Serbia in senior-level international competition, he has yet to come away with the gold.

It looks as though he’s intent to scratch that particular item off of his basketball bucket list at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, though.

As relayed by Eurohoops‘ Johnny Askounis, Bjelica’s name was included in the Serbian Basketball Federation’s 20-man player pool for World Cup qualifiers taking place this summer.

Serbia’s World Cup Path

Nemanja Bjelica on his first taste of the NBA Finals with the Warriors, reflects on time with SacramFormer Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica chats with FOX40’s Sean Cunningham about reaching the NBA Finals with the Golden State Warriors, why it’s a dream come true and reflects on his time in Sacramento.2022-06-02T01:39:19Z

Bjelica joins Boban Marjanovic — who was just acquired by the Houston Rockets in the Christian Wood trade — as a new addition to Serbia’s list of available ballers, which was composed by senior national team boss Svetislav Pesic. Reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic has also committed to suiting up for the team this summer.

Other players expected to be available for Serbia include Milos Teodosic, Nikola Jovic, Danilo Andjusic, Aleksa Avramovic, Nemanja Dangubic, Dejan Davidovac, Ognjen Jaramaz, Marko Jagodic-Kuridza, Balsa Koprivica, Vanja Marinkovic, Aleksa Novakovic, Marko Pecarski, Filip Petrusev, Dusan Ristic, Borisa Simanic, Dejan Todorovic, Uros Trifunovic and Aleksa Uskokovic.

The Serbs have two qualifying games coming up in the next two weeks. They’ll be in action on June 30 in Riga against Latvia after which they’ll return home to Nis for a July 3 game versus Belgium.

With results from the previous qualification round carrying over, Serbia will be placed alongside five other European teams in Group I for Round 2. The top three finishers in the new group will officially punch their tickets to the World Cup, which will emanate from Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines next summer.

FIBA Europe was allocated 12 World Cup berths in total.

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Klay Coming Along for the Ride?

There’s a chance that Bjelica won’t be the only Dubs player on-hand for the aforementioned qualifiers. During the team’s big championship celebration in Beantown, Klay Thompson was snapped making a vow to Bjelica that he’d be accompanying him to Serbia this summer.

“I love this man!” Thompson said of Bjelica in a video clip relayed by BasketNews. “We are going to Belgrade!”

If his antics at Golden State’s victory parade in San Francisco on Monday serve as any indication, the residents of Belgrade, Nis or wherever else Thompson might go to celebrate the Dubs’ title this summer are in for a sight.


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