Heat’s Nikola Jovic with perfect game as he continues to make statement with Serbia at World Cup

Miami Heat forward Nikola Jovic continues to cast himself as a shooting star at the World Cup in the Philippines, this time on Wednesday offering a perfect game.

Leading a Serbia lineup that also features Atlanta Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic in scoring for the second consecutive game, Jokic closed with 25 points in a 115-83 victory over a South Sudan team that includes former Heat forward Luol Deng as an assistant coach.

Jovic, 20, closed 9 of 9 from the field, including 5 of 5 on 3-pointers, adding three assists and two rebounds over his 27:12, playing without a turnover. As a matter of perspective, Jovic had a total of eight 3-pointers in his 15 appearances as a Heat rookie last season.

“We told him if you are alone, take the shot. If you have defense (on you), penetrate to the basket,” Serbia coach Svetislav Pesic said in the postgame media session. “He’s a very talented guy and he has a very good feeling in the one-on-one game. He’s young.

“The most important is not what I say to him. The most important is that he has support for teammates and teammates support him and believe in him. That is the most important.”

Serbia, which also got 23 points Wednesday from Bogdanovic, closed first-round pool play 3-0, next to play Italy, which features current and past NBA players Nicolo Melli, Simone Fontecchio and Luigi Datome.

Jovic is the lone Heat player participating in the World Cup, finding himself with an increased role in the wake of the decision of Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic to bypass the tournament that serves as a qualifier for next summer’s Paris Olympics. Jovic was coming off a team-high 17-point performance in a Monday victory over Puerto Rico.

The World Cup runs through Sept. 10, with Heat training camp opening Oct. 3.

Jovic, selected at No. 27 in the 2022 NBA draft, is among Heat players who have been linked to a potential trade for Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard.

The Heat’s other representative at the World Cup is coach Erik Spoelstra, who is serving as a USA Basketball assistant to Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr. Team, USA completed opening-round pool play 3-0 with a 110-62 victory Wednesday over Jordan.

Deadline looms

Thursday is the deadline for NBA teams to invoke the “stretch provision” on contracts for the 2023-24 season.

The mechanism allows teams to stretch remaining payments on contracts, while paying in full, over a period of multiple future seasons.

While the Heat are in tight position against the new onerous tier of the NBA luxury tax, the lone contract on the payroll that could alleviate such immediate concerns is also one the Heat said earlier their offseason would not be put into play, that of veteran point guard Kyle Lowry.

Due $29,682,540 for the coming season, the Heat could instead stretch that payment over three seasons for salary-cap and luxury-tax purposes by waiving Lowry by Thursday’s deadline.

That, however, would preclude utilizing Lowry in a trade going forward. It also would thereby add salary to the team’s cap for the following two seasons.

All other contracts on the Heat payroll are either for multiple seasons or for nominal salaries, making waiving such players under the stretch provision impractical.

Scrimmage set

The Heat announced that their annual open intrasquad preseason scrimmage will be held at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 9 at Kaseya Center.

The Red, White & Pink Game presented by Baptist Health Foundation benefits cancer care and research at the Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute,

Tickets, at $5, go on sale Thursday at noon at Ticketmaster outlets, with an eight-ticket limit per transaction. Parking for the event will be available for $5 in the P2 Garage. Doors for the event will open at 5:30 p.m.

The Oct. 3 will be the night before their preseason opener, against the visiting Charlotte Hornets.

The Heat open their regular season Oct. 25 against the visiting Detroit Pistons.