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Nikola Jokić Won't Join Serbia for Olympic Qualifying, Cites Need to Rest

Nuggets star Nikola Jokić will not play for Serbia in its upcoming Olympic qualifying tournament, nor will he play for the country if Serbia qualifies for the Tokyo Games.

Jokić, whose Nuggets were swept out of the NBA postseason by the Suns on Sunday, released a statement Wednesday to the Serbian state news agency Tanjug announcing his decision.

“To my great regret, this is the moment when I have to announce that despite my great desire, I am not able to play for the national team," Jokić said, according to a translation provided by "Simply, the condition of my body requires a longer absence from the court to recover. I have to accept that. I am sure that the guys have the quality to make a result without me, which will bring us all a lot of joy."

What Nikola Jokić's MVP Win Means for the Big Man

Jokić, 26, won the NBA's MVP award this season after averaging 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game while shooting 56.6% from the floor. He also played in all 72 games during the regular season. 

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In taking home the award, Jokić became the first full-time center since Shaquille O'Neal in 2000 to take home the league's top individual honor. 

Serbia, which won silver at the 2016 Olympics, will host the FIBA ​​Olympic qualifying tournament from June 29 through July in Belgrade. 

The tournament also featuring the national teams of Italy, Puerto Rico, Senegal, the Philippines and the Dominican Republic.

Even without Jokić's presence, Serbia has a deep roster that could include fellow NBA players Boban Marjanović, Bogdan Bogdanović and Nemanja Bjelica. 

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