Mike Tobey will rep UVA in 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics
Mike Tobey will be the first UVA men’s basketball alum to suit up in the Summer Olympics, after helping Slovenia qualify for a berth with a 96-85 win over a loaded Lithuania squad on Sunday.
Tobey, a native of Monroe, N.Y., who prepped at Blair Academy in New Jersey and played four years at Virginia, graduating in 2016, obtained a Slovenian passport last month.
I’m still not finding a definitive on the how part of that. Have to assume that he has a grandparent with Slovenian citizenship.
What we do know is that he was Team Slovenia’s second-leading scorer and rebounder in the four-game FIBA qualifying tournament, averaging 15.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
And this is a Team Slovenia whose star is this guy you may have heard of, goes by the name of Luca Doncic, who of course nearly averaged a triple-double in the tourney, putting up 21.3 points, 11.3 assists and 8.0 rebounds per game.
Doncic had high praise for Tobey after Slovenia’s 98-70 win over Venezuela on Saturday, in which Tobey put up a team-high 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds.
“He can do a lot, and he’s a great defensive guy,” Doncic said. “He’s really helping us down there.”
The defense was key in the win over Lithuania, whose roster features two NBA bigs, Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis and Memphis’s Jonas Valanciunas.
Tobey put up 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting with four rebounds in the win, and helped hold Valanciunas to 14 points and six rebounds in 26 minutes, and Sabonis to nine points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes.
Tobey also had a game-high +18 plus/minus rating; Sabonis’s plus/minus was -13, and Valanciunas’s was -17.
The final, played on Team Lithuania’s home court in Kaunas, was tied at the half at 52-52. Slovenia took control with a 14-0 run spanning a 5:20 stretch of the third and fourth quarters to lead 85-69.
After Lithuania cut the margin to 11 midway through the final period, Tobey scored on an alley-oop and a three on back-to-back possessions to push the margin back to 14, and it wouldn’t get closer until the final minute, basically garbage time.
Tobey was coming off his third season playing for Valencia (Spain) in the EuroLeague, in which he averaged 9.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, shooting 61.7 percent from the field and 40.2 percent from three-point range.
His shooting numbers in the FIBA qualifier: 58.1 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from three.
That, plus his defense, could draw the attention of NBA front-office types, that and his age – Tobey is still a young 26.
It’s not hard to envision him as a 7-foot three-and-D guy along the lines of Milwaukee 7-footer Brook Lopez, who shot 50.3 percent from the field and 33.8 percent from three spacing the floor for the Bucks on their way to an NBA Finals berth this season.
And actually, we know that he has the attention of at least one front-office type.
— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) July 4, 2021
UVA will have one other representative in the basketball portion of the Summer Olympics. Alum Dawn Staley, who won gold medals as a point guard on the women’s team in 1996, 2004 and 2004, then two more as an assistant coach, in 2008 and 2016, will be the head coach of Team USA in Tokyo.
Story by Chris Graham