In what was expected to be France’s easiest Group A game at the FIBA World Cup, the French annihilated Egypt 94-55 on Monday. Both teams were playing their third consecutive contests of the tournament. The Orlando Magic’s Evan Fournier not only got his first points for the French national team, he scored 9 of them and added 4 assists, one rebound, and a steal in 19 minutes. Evan was 4-for-9 from the field but 0-of-4 on 3-pointers as the 6’6″ wing still hasn’t made a three in the tourney. Still, this game was a confidence booster.
France was already up 13-4 when Edwin Jackson checked in, officially confirming that indeed he has jumped over Evan in the shooting guard rotation. Fournier checked in at the 7:58 mark of the 2nd period with France up 29-15. Evan missed his first 2-point jumper and then got credited with a turnover where he drove to the basket but got tripped up by an Egyptian who kneed him in the thigh. Should have been a foul.
That didn’t prevent Evan from defending well and dishing as he tallied 2 assists – one of them a transition bounce pass to Charles Kahudi for an and-1 lay-up – in the second quarter. But the 21-year-old still couldn’t make a shot as he missed an open right corner 3-pointer short. Finally on his third attempt off a nice loose ball grab, Evan dribbled to the left baseline and drained a clean 2-pointer late in the second quarter. France led 49-26 at the break with Evan being a +9 on the court in eight minutes.
Fournier entered the 3rd quarter at the 5-minute mark with France up 60-28. Evan would miss another 3-pointer, this open look from the left side. All misses have been barely off so it’s not a technique issue. Evan would get a transition lay-up goaltended as he cut nicely behind Egypt’s defense. Fournier missed a 3-pointer just before the third quarter buzzer as France held a 68-36 advantage entering the final 10-minute session.
Evan started the fourth period as his teammates encouraged him to keep shooting and to find his way out of his 3-point slump. He’d convert another fastbreak lay-up as Egypt had just about given up at this point. Starters came back in at the 8:30 mark of the last quarter.
Fournier came back in at the 4:41 mark at point guard. Evan just barely didn’t connect with Kahudi on a backdoor alley oop. Fournier missed a 4th three-pointer before getting a steal and flushing home a 2-hand jam. Evan would then find Kim Tillie for two outstanding assists. Evan was able to show off his bursts of speed at PG that included a free throw line trip on a tough lefty lay-up drive. Still needs to find his 3-point shot though. Hasn’t made one this tournament yet.
France has a day off on Tuesday before continuing on Wednesday with their Group A play in Granada. They’re 2-1 in the group and would 100% guarantee progression to the Round of 16 with one more victory from their next two games. The rest and extra preparation is needed as they take on hosts Spain who have been dominating so far. Tip-off is at 4 p.m. EST and the game can be seen in the United States on ESPN3.com and the Watch ESPN mobile app.
Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic chose to avoid not playing for the Montenegrin national team during its attempt to qualify in August for next year’s EuroBasket competition. Neither did Nikola Pekovic. These two big men are the country’s best talents. Still, Montenegro had enough talent to qualify for EuroBasket 2015. They didn’t and it’s appropriately being seen as a big failure by Vucevic and others. The blame should fall on the Head Coach, in this case Luka Pavicevic.
Vucevic recently gave an interview to a Montenegrin television station. Vucevic has shown great professional restraint in airing out his dissatisfaction towards Pavicevic, until now. The Vijesti news outlet reported some of the t.v. interview given. Using Google to translate a small portion of the interview, Vucevic said this:
“I’m sorry that I could not help Montenegro in qualifying, but if you change the coach, I’m ready to get back in the national team”
Vucevic mentioned how big of a deal it is for Montenegro that they’re missing out on a global playing stage for the next 3 years, but that this is an opportunity now to make appropriate changes to prevent something like this setback from occurring again. I agree with ‘Vooch’ and the request to make a coaching change.
Luka Pavicevic badly mishandled the talents of the 23-year-old in the 2013 EuroBasket tournament in Slovenia. It’s been rumored that Pavicevic also refused to bring Pekovic into the team last year because ‘Pek’ didn’t sign his new contract extension with the Minnesota Timberwolves in time to join Montenegro for training. That was a full 3 weeks before the tournament. It’s absurd to think that a professional athlete – who just got paid big bucks – wouldn’t be prepared for an international competition in that amount of time. Stubbornness to refuse to cater towards NBA players by national team coaches isn’t new, but that’s what occurred.
That’s why Montenegro had a miserable tournament last year. It’s a big reason why Pekovic and Vucevic chose not to participate in this recent qualifying attempt to get into EuroBasket. Now Montenegro won’t be able to participate in another major tournament until the 2017 EuroBasket. That’s an unfortunate step backwards for a nation that has a population less than one million. Assuming Pavicevic get replaced, Montenegro will then be thrilled to have Pekovic and Vucevic assist in the national team reaching a large basketball stage once again in a few years. Both men love playing for their country, they just need a reasonable coach to lead them.
Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo participated in the Goodman League Classic on Sunday. It was held at McDonough Arena at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. which are the 22-year-old’s old stomping grounds before attending college at Indiana University. Players like Bradley Beal and Josh Selby attended. ‘Dipo can be seen wearing a yellow #23 jersey flying through the air like he was old school Michael Jordan on quite a few occasions. At minimum, this exhibition could be a nice way for Victor to create some buzz about joining the All-Star Weekend dunk contest. Credit to the folks at Hoop District for the Vine videos.
Baby Shaq starts this fast break that leads to an Oladipo tomahawk jam https://t.co/QqcGkAPBd9
— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) August 31, 2014
The Orlando Magic’s Evan Fournier is in a shooting slump. He’s doing everything else correct but putting the ball into the basket. It’s tough to warrant playing time when shots are not falling. France earned their first FIBA World Cup victory as they beat Serbia 74-73 on Sunday in a very entertaining contest, but Fournier didn’t play the entire second half. In 10 first half minutes, Evan was 0-for-4 from the field and tallied an assist in over ten minutes of action. The 21-year-old is scoreless for the tournament after two days.
Fournier missed the majority of the first half yesterday, this time Evan checked in at the 4:11 mark of the first quarter. Evan had a tough matchup with 27-year-old Milos Teodosic who is a legend in Europe already. The French were struggling offensively before Evan checked in at shooting guard. Fournier didn’t attempt a shot, but he spread the court, distributed well, and didn’t make a single defensive error. His chemistry with Nicolas Batum honestly should have Coach Vincent Collet contemplating playing Evan with Batum sliding to SF more. Mickael Gelabale and Florent Pietrus have not been solutions.
We found out that Magic Head Coach Jacque Vaughn was at the game to see his player in action.
Fournier getting much earlier PT than he did yesterday. Jacque Vaughn here in attendance.
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) August 31, 2014
Evan started the second quarter. His first shot was a tough stepback that just missed. Fournier then was unable to capitalize on a difficult transition lay-up attempt over two Serbians. Fournier sat with 5:56 mark in the half with France trailing by 4 points still. Evan’s plus/minus was ’0′. That 8-minute stretch matched all of the playing time he saw on Saturday. Boris Diaw struggled with foul trouble.
Fournier checked back in at the 3:30 mark of the half with his team down 8 and immediately had a runner just barely miss off the front iron. At just under the 2-minute mark, Evan would have a decent look at a right corner 3-pointer not hit the mark. Fournier displayed outstanding defense on Teodosic though including great post-up resistance against Nemanja Bjelica. France trailed 42-34 at the break.
Coach Collet had Edwin Jackson and Antoine Diot start the second half instead of Diaw and Heurtel. It worked as Jackson went on a scoring tear that included a 4-point play. That could be a problem in regards to Evan’s playing time moving forward. France tied the game up at 46-46 in just three minutes thanks to a 10-0 run. Surprisingly, Nenad Krstic never entered the contest. Serbia led 62-60 entering the final 10-minute session.
Fournier was relegated to being a bench cheerleader the entire second half as Charles Kahudi and Jackson took away playing time. Jackson finished with 12 points while Kahudi had 3. Coach Vaughn I’m sure appreciated the support and energy Evan displayed on the sideline. It was exciting back-and-forth finish. Diaw tied the contest with eighteen seconds left in regulation. Bogdan Bogdanovic turns it over with about 4 seconds left. Then a wild Joffrey Lauvergne earns a questionable call and free throws with one second on the clock. He only needed to make one, did, and Serbia didn’t even get a final heave off. Lauvergne led his team in scoring with 19 points. Diot added 15 and Batum notched 11. Serbian Miroslav Raduljica may find an NBA team soon as he dominated with 21 points in defeat. Both France and Serbia are 1-1 in Group A.
France will play a third consecutive game on Monday against Egypt. This is a must-win and should be relatively easy in comparison to Brazilian and Serbian opposition. Tip-off is at 12 p.m. EST and the match can be seen on ESPN3.com and the Watch ESPN mobile app. Here is part 5 of the French Basketball Federation’s series on the national team.
The Orlando Magic’s Evan Fournier officially began FIBA World Cup action today. It’s the first time the 21-year-old is participating in an international tournament with the French senior national team. The first of 5 Group A games began Saturday in Granada, Spain against a challenging Brazil squad. The defending EuroBasket champions lost against the Brazilians 65-63 with the help of some horrendous French coaching by Vincent Collet down the stretch. Again, just like in the exhibitions, Fournier was on the bench when France needed a capable 3-point shooter late. Baffling. Evan finished with no points on 0-for-1 shooting from the field in 8 bench minutes.
France jumped out to a 12-3 start thanks to some timely 3-pointers by Nicolas Batum and Thomas Heurtel to set the tone. Brazil did not appear alert. It was strange to see both Charles Kahudi and Edwin Jackson get substituted into the contest before Evan did, something that Coach Collet had done very rarely in exhibition play. Those questionable substitutions played a role in Brazil coming back and making it a tight affair late in the first half.
Fournier didn’t check in until the 3:06 mark of the second period as he played at SG with Batum sliding over to SF. Evan only got one look, a relatively open 3-pointer from the left side that didn’t drop in. Brazil led 28-26 at the break. France shot 43% from the field and only managed 2-for-9 shooting from deep. The most notable thing about Evan’s three minutes was his solid defense. Oh, and his hair bun.
— Adam Papageorgiou (@adamosgp) August 30, 2014
The French were in their sleeved jerseys that are a hint at what the NBA will be seeing in a few years. Brazil was up by 6 when Fournier checked into the game at the 4-minute mark of the third period. Evan barely touched the ball but defended Leandro Barbosa very well. France trailed 46-41 entering the fourth period. In the final 10-minute session, Fournier remained on the court for the first minute before sitting for the rest of the contest. Boris Diaw finished with 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists while Batum was the only other Frenchman in double digits with 13 points. Brazil was led by Marcelinho Huertas who tallied 16 points and 5 assists, while Anderson Varejao notched 8 points and 9 rebounds.
France plays a difficult Serbia side on Sunday to continue Group A play. Tip-off is slated for 9:30 a.m. EST and it’ll be shown on NBA TV as well as ESPN3.com and the Watch ESPN mobile app. A second consecutive loss for France would make progressing to the Round of 16 all the more tougher.
The ‘MBO’ staff is back to follow up part 1 of our FIBA World Cup roundtable discussion to chat more about this tournament. We examine Maurice Harkless not playing for Puerto Rico, and could Team USA actually lose? Contributing again are Adam Papageorgiou, Brian Serra, Andrew Melnick, and Spenser Strode.
Maurice Harkless changed his mind and is not playing for Puerto Rico. Was that a mistake, and will Maurice regret it?
Adam Papageorgiou: I’ll tell you now that Maurice is still getting hate tweets from a lot of angry Puerto Ricans. If you saw the Team USA exhibition match against P.R. in New York City you would have realized that adding Harkless at small forward (or even as a stretch PF) would put P.R. in the discussion for a podium spot. He’s 21 years old and hopefully has not burned his bridges with the Puerto Rican Basketball Federation for future tourneys.
I know his agent said that Maurice wanted to focus solely on himself and prepare for a very important Magic season, but there’s only so much you can do on your own. You can’t beat international competition where you can learn new things from new coaches and teammates. You’re going up against the best in the world and you can make a name for yourself with solid 2-way play. This would have been the most important event Harkless has participated on a competitive level so far in his career. He’ll regret passing on this opportunity quickly if he gets off to a sluggish start to the Magic season.
Brian Serra: If Harkless had stronger personal ties to Puerto Rico, I may feel differently/stronger about this – but I don’t. He would have spent a month training with inferior competition to play five games and go home. That’s a significant amount of the offseason for a 21-year old with no real connection to the team. Stay home, shoot 1,000 corner 3-pointers a day and get stronger.
Andrew Melnick: Honestly, Harkless really doesn’t need to play for Puerto Rico. Although it’d be nice to see him in the event, he may be better served remaining in the states and refining his NBA game, which is what Harkless has vowed to do. With the way Harkless shot from the outside during the second half of the season and his talent and length of defense, he may not be far from becoming a very solid player.
Spenser Strode: There’s a difference between training with and being around hungry, young, emerging superstars…and going to international camp with an over-the-hill Carlos Arroyo and questionable locker-room guy in J.J. Barea. Harkless will get more benefit from working with his own Magic teammates (and lifting, shooting, and watching tape of ‘hard-cutting Matt Barnes’) and working towards a more aggressive, confident approach for the upcoming season.
Below is the rest of the Part 2 World Cup discussion.
Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo has continuously stayed busy all offseason in preparation for the ’14-’15 campaign. We’ve already known about Victor’s return to Hoosier Land for an ‘On The Road’ tour, as well as his charity bowling and basketball game in D.C. where Victor grew up and played high school ball. Now there’s video proof of what occurred on these trips.
First we see Indiana Hoosiers Head Coach Tom Crean introduce former players Vic and Cody Zeller. It’s a very solid 14-minute clip that displays Crean’s speaking abilities and passion for his employer and his athletes. ‘Dipo and Zeller also talk a lot with Victor looking all the more comfortable in front of a microphone. It’s mentioned that Victor has gone back to the university five times just this summer. More importantly, Coach Crean and Victor confirm that the 22-year-old is the face and leader of the Magic.
Focusing on the charity weekend, Victor gets interviewed during the bowling session. He mentions how valuable Magic Head Coach Jacque Vaughn has been to him so far in his career. There’s also some footage of Oladipo playing in the basketball scrimmage.
Believe it or not, we are only 1 month away from NBA training camps beginning. Thankfully, the FIBA World Cup will occupy half of that time beginning August 30th. We already have released the thorough France preview that focuses on Orlando Magic summer acquisition Evan Fournier. The ‘MBO’ staff also got together for a roundtable discussion to chat more about this tournament. It was so good we broke it down into two parts. Contributing are Adam Papageorgiou, Brian Serra, Andrew Melnick, and Spenser Strode.
What are your statistical predictions for Evan Fournier and how far does France advance?
Adam Papageorgiou: If the friendlies mean anything – which often times they don’t since coaching staffs are hiding everything they really plan to do – then Fournier isn’t going to see much crunch time with guys like Nicolas Batum, Boris Diaw, Mickael Gelabale, Florent Pietrus, and Antoine Diot taking up wing minutes. I’ll say Fournier averages 15 minutes and 6 points per game. Evan is going to have to prove his 3-point supremacy and force Coach Vincent Collet to give the 21-year-old more court time. Fournier along with Rudy Gobert are the youngest players on the squad.
As for the French team, they should finish second or third in Group A which means they’ll meet the third or second seed coming out of Group B in the Round of 16. That could be any of Greece, Puerto Rico, Argentina, or Croatia. I’ll say France crashes out in the Quarterfinal match. No Tony Parker and Joakim Noah is going to be too much to overcome and this team has size problems.
Brian Serra: If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I shouldn’t over-hype my expectations for NBA players in international competition. I’ve been burned too many times before and I’m tired of getting caught with the “WHY ISN’T XXXXX PLAYING?!” spewing from my brain. He was a bottom of the roster addition to the team, so that’s where his expectations should be. Any good run he can get, will be welcomed back here stateside. With France likely to finish 3rd or 4th in their group, I foresee an early knockout for the undersized French.
Andrew Melnick: Although I believe the acquisition of Fournier by the Magic was underrated, I don’t see him getting enough time to put up big numbers. Even without Tony Parker, the team is full of talented veterans so it’s tough to see Fournier playing any more than 17-18 minutes a game, meaning he’ll probably put up 5-7 points per game. As for the team, France’s group features Brazil, Serbia and Spain, so it is extremely tough. I’ll say France finishes second or third in their group and bows out in the round of 16.
Spenser Strode: Look, he ain’t that great. The France team ain’t that great. I would be surprised if Fournier tallies more than 5 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists per tournament game. Based on the draw, I think France advances from Group A as the 3rd seed. I see France getting to the final 8, in a squeaker, and then bowing out.
Below is the rest of the Part 1 World Cup discussion.
Orlando Magic fans craving basketball have been granted a gift. For the next 2 weeks they can watch their own Evan Fournier participate for France in the FIBA World Cup. The tournament – which is more important than the Olympics – has 24 countries competing from August 30th through September 14th in Spain. The last World Cup – then called the World Championships – occurred in Turkey in 2010 and was won by the U.S. with Kevin Durant taking home the MVP honor. Because Team USA is the main draw again this year, we Americans are very fortunate that all 63 FIBA World Cup matches will be shown online at ESPN3.com with a large portion of the contests – including all Team USA games – being televised on ESPN, ESPN 2, and NBA TV. So get your DVRs ready if you can’t watch live during the late morning or afternoon.
France isn’t the same squad that won EuroBasket last year in Slovenia. Tony Parker, Joakim Noah, Kevin Seraphin, Alexis Ajinca, and Nando De Colo all are not on Coach Vincent Collet’s roster this year either due to injury or because the players did not make themselves available to join the national team. The French still have a competitive roster as they’ll lean heavily on current NBAers like Nicolas Batum, Boris Diaw, Rudy Gobert, Ian Mahinmi, and Fournier. Also, don’t discount the importance of Mickael Gelabale, Florent Pietrus, Joffrey Lauvergne, Thomas Heurtel, and Antoine Diot. The French will most likely utilize a 10 or 11-man rotation with all of the above players being used.
The French can still win a podium spot, but Batum is going to have to be one of the tournament’s top scorers while Diaw is going to have to put up close to triple-double stat lines. Batum and Fournier have been having some fun throughout their time together this offseason that included ‘selfie vengeance’. Ideally, it would be outstanding if the two played together on the wing positions as much as possible.
Below we’ll see how Evan did in preparation for the tourney as well as break down France’s World Cup schedule.