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France Squeaks Past Serbia as Fournier Slumps

2014 August 31
by Adam Papageorgiou

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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.

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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.

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.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO and Founder of Orlando Magic Greek

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