After leaving the NBA bubble to receive treatment for plantar fasciitis and missing the entirety of the playoffs and seeding games, Domantas Sabonis has expressed interest in joining Lithuania’s National Team for the upcoming FIBA EuroBasket Qualifiers, his country’s basketball federation announced on Wednesday with the release of their official 25-man player pool.
According to Donantas Urbonas of 15min.lit, Lithuanian National Team officials are attempting to formalize things with the Pacers for Sabonis to play qualifying games during the upcoming FIBA windows at the end of November against Denmark and Belgium. Notably, much to the chagrin of fans of the green and gold, Sabonis reportedly sat out EuroBasket 2017 because the Pacers wanted him to prepare for the upcoming season after acquiring him via trade from Oklahoma City.
Due to concerns about COVID-19, FIBA announced in September that all games played during the November window will be hosted at regional bubble sites, instead of home and away games, with “the agreement of the host public health authorities and in compliance with FIBA health protocols (including PCR testing and controlled entry into a secure environment in the competition city).” The Lithuanian capital city of Vilnius has been confirmed as the host city for Group C (Lithuania, Belgium, and Denmark), which would limit travel for Sabonis in the event that Indiana gives him the all-clear.
That said, given that the lefty big man hasn’t played organized, competitive basketball since March, it seems reasonable that the Pacers might have some concerns about him returning to action abroad in the absence of the team’s medical and training staff. On the other hand, however, the prospect of allowing him to shake off some rust ahead of next season in a safety-controlled environment may also carry some appeal.