After being unable to participate in the November qualifying window for EuroBasket due to the shortened offseason and bureaucratic issues between the NBA and FIBA, Domantas Sabonis headlines Lithuania’s 15-man roster for next month’s FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Kaunas, along with Jonas Valanciunas.
With the squad gathering for training camp on June 16, Sabonis will have a few more weeks of rest before returning to the court a little more than a month after being eliminated by the Wizards in the second-round of the play-in tournament. Ousted prior to the knock-out rounds on a controversial rim shot against France that would’ve tied the game at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, the men dressed in green and gold must emerge victorious from the Kaunas Qualifying Tournament being held on their home soil from June 29-July 4 to have a shot at vengeance in Tokyo.
Lithuania will play in Group A and take on Korea and Venzuela. In Group B is Poland, Angola, and Slovenia. The countries that finish in first and second in both groups will advance to the Semi-Finals and only the winner of the Final will move on to the Olympics. As of now, after leading Slovenia to European gold in 2017, Luka Doncic has been named to Slovenia’s 24-man roster, with Goran Dragic notably absent. If Dallas continues to advance in the playoffs, however, Doncic could potentially be a late scratch.
Prior to competing in the group stage, Lithuania is also scheduled to play tune-up games against Russia (June 22) and the Dominican Republic (June 18, 24).
The United States, meanwhile, has already qualified for the Olympics, with Malcolm Brogdon and Myles Turner both among the 57 players tabbed to be considered in the National Team process. Turner was part of the 2019 Men’s World Cup that finished a disappointing seventh-place and has expressed interest in once again representing Team USA this summer, pending recovery from the torn plantar plate in his big toe.
“If I’m fortunate enough to be put in that position to play for Team USA, of course, I’m going to give it all I’ve got,” said the league’s leading shot-blocker during exit interviews. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Not that many people can say they’re an Olympian. I’m going to continue to attack my rehab, day in and day out, continue to work on myself and work on my game and get myself to where I want to be. It’s definitely the ultimate goal. The basketball stage doesn’t get any bigger than that.”
On the coaching side, though Nate Bjorkgren’s future with the Pacers is still being considered, Nick Nurse said he expects his former assistant to be available as part of his Canada Staff for the qualifying tournament in Victoria.