The Dallas Mavericks were hoping to see four players punch their tickets to the Olympic Games through the four qualifying tournaments around the world. Luka Doncic lifted Slovenia to Tokyo on Sunday afternoon. Dwight Powell and Canada lost in the semifinals to end their Olympic hopes. Boban Marjanovic and Serbia faced Nicolo Melli and Italy with a spot in the Olympics on the line on July 4.
Serbia was the significant favorite coming into the game, but the Italians had other ideas. They dominated the first three quarters to upset the hosts 102-95. Mavericks forward Nicolo Melli will be playing in Tokyo later this month as they ended Boban and Serbia’s chances.
Here is a closer look at both player’s performances on Sunday afternoon before a brief preview of what to expect from Melli and his national team in the Olympics.
Dallas Mavericks forward Nicolo Melli helps Italy defeat Serbia to earn place in Olympics
Boban and Melli both started the game for their respective sides. It was Italy who jumped out quickly and held a six-point lead after the opening quarter. They were playing small and forcing Boban off the floor. The 7’4 big man was limited to just under nine minutes in Sunday’s final. He finished seven points and three rebounds, but Serbia was outscored by 17 during his time on the floor.
Melli’s shooting struggles continued as he went just two of seven from the field. He finished with five points, four rebounds, and one steal in 20.4 minutes of action. Italy dominated the game, though. Serbia made a fourth-quarter comeback, but it was not enough as Italy took the 102-95 victory on July 4 to punch their ticket to Tokyo.
Nicolo Melli’s national team will be in the Olympics for the first time since 2004. They will be in Group B against Australia, Germany, and Nigeria. The top two teams in each group advance to the Quarterfinals along with the top best third-place teams. Italy figures to be favored to qualify for the knockout stages.
The Dallas Mavericks will have at least three players in the Olympics. Luka Doncic, Josh Green, and Nicolo Melli are all set to feature. Maxi Kleber could return from his injury to play for Germany in Tokyo. Stay tuned to The Smoking Cuban for plenty more on the Mavs in the Olympics.