Josh Nebo explains decision to join Slovenia, unique opportunity to play with Luka Doncic

2024-07-04T21:24:29+00:00 2024-07-05T00:39:56+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

04/Jul/24 21:24

Josh Nebo is already putting up important performances for Slovenia

By Antonis Stroggylakis/

EuroLeague standout center Josh Nebo explained why he opted to join the Slovenian national team as a naturalized player, starting his run from the 2024 Olympic Qualifiers.

“It was my decision,” Nebo said. He replaced fellow American-born big man Mike Tobey, who represented Slovenia in multiple tournaments, including the 2020 Olympics, the 2022 EuroBasket and the 2023 World Cup. “Whenever the opportunity was presented to me it was my decision to make.”

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“For me, it’s a big honor to represent this country,” Nebo also mentioned. “To be able to play for them. To know that I’m not playing only for myself but I’m playing for a whole country. It’s great honor to play here and I’ll try to make the most out of it.”

“Obviously to get the chance to try and fight to play in the Olympics means a lot to me,” Nebo added.

This is exactly why Nebo’s first experience of representing Slovenia comes with a major and enticing challenge as the 2017 EuroBasket champions are looking to book a ticket to the 2024 Olympic Games of Paris through the Qualifying Tournament of Piraeus.

Slovenia got the qualification for the semifinal stage of the competition by beating New Zealand 104 – 78. It was more hard-earned than what the final score shows since Luka Doncic and company needed a victory of 10 points or more to advance.

This result sends Slovenia to a knockout match vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Greece on Saturday.

“It wasn’t easy for us,” Nebo commented. “We had to win by 10 plus. It took a lot of energy out of us. But I’m glad we were able to come out with the win.

Nebo contributed 20 points on 10 out of 15 shots and 12 rebounds, putting on a dominant performance on both ends of the floor while often spearheading the Slovenia defense.

Meanwhile, Luka notched his second straight triple-double with 36 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

“Everybody knows who Luka is and what he can do,” Nebo said. “He’s one of the best players in the world and it’s very easy to play with him.”

Doncic’s presence provided yet another reason that persuaded Nebo into accepting the Slovenia offer.

“Opportunities to get play with a great player like Luka don’t come every day,” he mentioned.

Like many other US players before him, Nebo received a European passport which also allows him to participate as a EU foreigner in domestic competitions. Domestic leagues have certain rules and restrictions regarding how many US or non-US players can be included on an active roster for games.

After spending the last two seasons with Maccabi Tel Aviv and following the most productive season in his career Nebo signed a two-year contract with Olimpia Milano in Italy. In 2023-24, he posted 11.2 points and 7.6 rebounds in the EuroLeague.

Photo: FIBA Basketball