Follow FIBA on Facebook
Bjelica unable to make it back in time for Serbia
BELGRADE (Rio 2016 Olympic Games) - Nemanja Bjelica, one of Serbia's star players since their surprise appearance in the EuroBasket 2009 Final, has ruled himself out of the country's Olympic campaign because of injury.
The 28-year-old, who missed the team's FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) triumph in Belgrade, had hoped to recover from an inflamed nerve in his right foot but he needs a few more weeks to do so.
"For seven years, I have spent every summer with the national team and it is difficult to accept that I will not be able to help the team at such a large event as the Olympic Games." - Bjelica
While the Serbians have a tremendous team with talent at every position, they will miss the Minnesota Timberwolves forward. He has a lot of experience, plays terrific defense and possesses an all-round skill set on offense.
Time and time again in the national team shirt, including last year in Germany and France at the EuroBasket, Bjelica has shown himself to be special.
"I am very attached to the national team and I'm so sorry that I will not be on the team at the Olympic Games in Rio," Bjelica said.
"For seven years, I have spent every summer with the national team and it is difficult to accept that I will not be able to help the team at such a large event as the Olympic Games.
"I talked with coach (Aleksandar) Djordjevic and we agreed that such a big competition requires players that are physically ready, which I am not at this moment. I need to heal the injury."
Serbia have been one of the leading teams in international basketball since Bjelica's arrival.
After reaching the title game of EuroBasket 2009 and losing to Spain, the team finished fourth at the 2010 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Turkey. In 2014, Serbia reached the Final of the World Cup in Spain and last year, they were fourth at the EuroBasket in France.
The other 11 teams at the Olympics will know that Serbia, even without one of their stars, will be formidable. Djordjevic's side stormed to first place at the OQT in Belgrade, winning that event on 9 July with new addition Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets scooping the honor as the tournament's MVP.