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Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia and Herzegovina Lose to Poland in Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament Final

The 76-72 loss means Nurkic and his national team will not be playing in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Slovenia v Bosnia and Herzegovina: Group B - FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Photo by Jenny Musall/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, playing for Bosnia and Herzegovina this summer, dropped a heartbreaker in the championship game of the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament today.

Poland defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina 76-72, knocking the nation out of next summer’s FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament and by extension, the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Nurkic had a Bosnian Beast-like stat line in terms of stuffing the box score — 11 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block — but he shot 5/15 from the field for his lowest point total of the tournament. The other half of the team’s one-two punch, forward Dzanan Musa, also struggled on the offensive end, scoring just 10 points on 4/15 shooting. In the four tournament games prior to the final, Musa averaged 20 points per game.

Despite the low-scoring games from its two stars, Bosnia and Herzegovina was neck-and-neck with Poland until the very end. The game saw 24 lead changes and no team led by more than six points. The score was deadlocked at 54-54 heading into the fourth quarter, setting the stage for a trading of blows in the final minutes. Nurkic, hounded by a double team in the post, found Aleksandar Lazic for an open 3-pointer to give Bosnia and Herzegovina a 71-70 lead with 1:30 remaining. That was the team’s last lead and final make from the field, as Poland won a free throw battle the rest of the way to close out the win 76-72.

Instead of Nurkic and Musa, sharpshooters Aleksandar Lazic and Edin Atic led Bosnia and Herzegovina in scoring with 16 points and 15 points, respectively. The duo combined for seven 3-pointers. Luka Garza, of brief Trail Blazers Summer League fame, logged eight points and five rebounds (all on the offensive end). On the other side, forward Michal Sokolowski led Poland with 16 points.

The loss wraps up a five-game tournament run for Bosnia and Herzegovina that saw the country finish 3-2. Both losses came against Poland, with the first coming in an 85-76 defeat in group phase play on Aug. 14. In the eight-team tournament field, Bosnia and Herzegovina finished second in Group B through the group phase to qualify for the semi-finals. The country beat Israel 86-77 to reach the championship, before coming up short again to Poland.

In five games in the pre-qualifying tournament, Nurkic averaged 15.4 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists. Nurkic’s biggest performance came against Israel in the semi-final, as he recorded 20 points, 14 rebounds (seven offensive), and three assists.