By REYNALD MAGALLON
If there’s something that the Denver Nuggets championship run in the NBA showed about Nikola Jokic aside from his already known dominance and carefree nature, that should be his ability to carry a team to the throne.
Sure, Jokic had an able supporting cast in Jamal Murray, Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr, but there is no denial that the Finals MVP simply had his way in a five-game triumph over Miami.
If no one can stop Nikola Jokic in the NBA, then probably there’s one from the rest of the world? Or maybe not, at least for the preliminaries of the 2023 FIBA World Cup?
The European powerhouse was drawn with China, Puerto Rico and South Sudan in Group B where there’s not a lot of players who could match up well individually with Jokic although has a handful of big men who together, could at least minimize the impact the Joker could bring.
South Sudan, for one, has a slew of 6-foot-8 bigs who can bother Jokic inside the paint including 6-foot-9 forward Nuni Omot who led the way for the African nation during the qualifiers.
China, on the other hand, is certainly not lacking in size led by 2016 NBA Draftees Zhou Qi and Wang Zhelin. Jokic could also be facing the chinese great wall inside the paint with the inclusion of CBA rookie of the year and 7-foot-3 Harold Yu.
Puerto Rico might pose the biggest challenge for Serbia in the initial group stage as the squad can put 6-foot-10 youngster George Conditt or the veteran Ismael Romero on The Joker.
Serbia, however, is certainly not a one-man crew as it also boasts a bevy of NBA talents in the likes of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Aleksej Pokusevski, Nikola Jovic, and Boban Marjanovic.
Group Phase games of Serbia will be held at the Araneta Coliseum. Tickets are already on sale at https://philippines-ticketing.worldcup.basketball/, with several packages and day passes from which to choose.