The Heat’s Nikola Jovic fell in the World Cup final to Serbia, ending a busy basketball summer
Miami Heat forward Nikola Jovic will begin his second NBA season with a newly earned medal, but it won’t be gold.
Jovic earned the silver medal after Serbia’s national team lost to Germany 83-77 in the FIBA Basketball World Cup match on Sunday in the Philippines.
Jovic finished the loss with nine points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field, 1-of-4 shooting from three-point range, eight rebounds, one assist and one steal in 28 minutes against a Germany roster that included NBA talents such as Dennis Schroder, Franz Wagner, Moritz Wagner, And Daniel Theis.
Jovic’s day began with an impressive sequence that began with him grabbing a defensive rebound from one side of the court and ending with him completing a dunk on the other side of the court to score Serbia’s second basket of the game.
That play was part of Jovic’s strong first quarter. He scored seven points on 3-of-3 shooting from the field, including shooting 1-of-1 on threes, in the opening period on Sunday.
But Jovic scored just two points on 1-of-7 shooting from the field after that fast start.
However, Jovic’s improvement since his first NBA season was evident this summer when he was a 20-year-old with an exciting mix of skill and size at 6-foot-11.
In a starting role, Jovic averaged 10.1 points, three rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, while shooting 56.6 percent from the field and 11-of-26 (42.3 percent) shooting from beyond the arc over Serbia’s eight World Cup games.
Jovic ranked fourth on Serbia’s top scorers in the tournament, while Atlanta Hawks’ Bogdan Bogdanovic topped the list with 19.1 points per game on 52.6 percent shooting from the field. Two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic did not play for Serbia in the event, instead opting to rest after leading the Denver Nuggets to the NBA Championship.
It comes after Jovic averaged 15 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from the field and 5-of-15 (33.3 percent) from three-point range in four summer league games in July.
Jovic, who was selected 27th overall by the Heat last year, is the only Heat player to participate in the World Cup this year.
For Jovic, all of these experiences are valuable as he looks to carve out a consistent spot in the Heat’s rotation in his second NBA season after spending most of his rookie season sidelined with a back injury. But he’s also dealing with the possibility of being traded, as his name has been mentioned as a potential trade piece in a potential deal for Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard.
After a busy two-month stretch that included Summer League games with the Heat and World Cup games with Serbia, Jovic doesn’t have much time to rest before the NBA season.
For Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who served as an assistant to Team USA head coach Steve Kerr, the World Cup in the Philippines ended without a medal. Team USA lost to Canada 127-118 in overtime in the bronze medal game on Sunday, its third loss in four games after also losing to Lithuania and Germany.
Spoelstra now returns to Miami for his 16th season as the Heat’s coach after spending the last few weeks in his ancestral homeland in the Philippines. Spoelstra is the first Asian-American coach in the NBA and is of Filipino descent on his mother’s side.
The Heat is scheduled to hold its annual media day three weeks later on Oct. 2 before starting training camp on Oct. 3. The Heat opens the preseason on October 10 and the regular season on October 25.