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Nikola Vucevic Has Montenegro Halfway to EuroBasket 2017

2016 September 8
by Adam Papageorgiou
Courtesy of FIBA

Courtesy of FIBA

Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic has his Montenegrin men’s basketball team at 3-0 in their six-game EuroBasket qualifying tournament schedule after winning a hectic contest in the 9,700-seat Tbilisi Sports Palace against Georgia 76-74 on Wednesday.

To say it was scrappy was an understatement. Vucevic finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks on 7-of-22 shooting (2-of-5 on 3s) in 28 minutes. It was a lot tougher than the 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting in the easy 15 minutes he played in that blowout of Albania just a few days prior.

It was dubbed a duel of NBA centers between ‘Vooch’ and former Magic man – current Golden State signing – Zaza Pachulia. It didn’t disappoint. Pachulia was more efficient, but fouled out in crunch time. Pachulia had 22 points and 9 rebounds in 26 minutes.

Triples were the difference in this contest. Georgia shot an awful 3-of-20 from deep, while Montenegro hoisted up 13-of-33 on 3s.

If you have 2 hours to spare, watch the entire game. Yes, it gets ugly game-playing wise, but the passion displayed by players and fans is why international ball just matters more than most NBA games.

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Penny & Pops Podcast: Drafting the Best Magic Playoff Series Wins

2016 September 2
by Adam Papageorgiou

New MBO Facebook Profile Pic

In a podcast special, Penny and I select and detail the greatest Orlando Magic playoff series victories in the franchise’s history. This is done in a draft choice format. Remember, it’s entire series. Not single games.

Obviously, there’s a lot of 1995 and 2009 chatting. Plenty of Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard dominance. However, there also some series discussed that you probably forgot.

As a bonus, this episode concludes with the selection of our ‘favorite’ playoff series losses. Hint: It involves the team’s two greatest SGs in history.

With Hurricane Hermine coming through and potentially dampening the weekend in the southeast, enjoy the episode. Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend.

Warning: Adult Language

 

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.

***Join Magic Basketball Online on Facebook and our post-only Twitter profile***

Vucevic Scores 12 Points in Win Over Slovak Republic

2016 August 31
by Adam Papageorgiou
vooch1stgame

Courtesy of FIBA.

Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic had a fairly easy evening in the opening contest of his country’s 6-game 2017 EuroBasket Group F qualifying schedule. Montenegro defeated the Slovak Republic – a.k.a Slovakia – 97-65 on Wednesday night in Montenegro’s city of Podgorica. Montenegro never trailed in the 40-minute session. 39 points was the largest lead.

Vucevic – wearing #4 – will be a constant starter. Nikola tallied 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists on 5-of-8 shooting and 2-of-2 on free throws. Nik was a +18 in 19 minutes of action. Teammate Vladimir Dasic led all scorers with 17 points. Marko Todorovic recorded 13 points and 10 rebounds.

If the 54.2 FG% advantage over Slovakia’s 35.6 FG% wasn’t obvious enough, Montenegro out-rebounding their opponent 45-28 indicated dominance. Doubling up Slovakia on assists (28-14) didn’t hurt either. Other large statistical gaps: 15-4 fast break points and 52-28 points in the paint.

Vucevic scored 6 points in the first 4 minutes. He played the first 8 minutes of the game, then didn’t check back in until two minutes prior to halftime as Montenegro was already cruising. By the time Nik got up to 12 points off an offensive rebound and finish, it was 75-41 with 1:09 to go in the third quarter. ‘Vooch’ rested the entire final period.

 

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The next match comes Saturday September 3rd in Albania. All eyes will be on the September 7th meeting though when Montenegro goes into Georgia to take on former Magic man Zaza Pachulia‘s decent squad.

It’s pretty evident the Group F winner will be Montenegro or Georgia. It’s very possible both end up qualifying for next year’s EuroBasket competition. On paper, Georgia has the history and many view them as better than Montenegro. I disagree, but we’ll find out. Georgia dispatched of Albania earlier on Wednesday by a large 86-47 score.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.

***Join Magic Basketball Online on Facebook and our post-only Twitter profile***

Nikola Vucevic Attempts to Lead Montenegro Back to EuroBasket

2016 August 30
by Adam Papageorgiou
Photo courtesy of rtvslo.si

Photo courtesy of rtvslo.si

Basketball doesn’t stop. Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic will already be in good physical condition come next month’s training camp. That’s because he’ll be leading his country’s basketball team as Montenegro will spend August 31st through September 17th trying to qualify for next year’s 2017 EuroBasket competition.

If you recall past coverage, ‘EuroBasket’ is the popular term for the FIBA European Basketball Championship that gets held every two years. This will be the last time that occurs as the next EuroBasket after 2017 won’t be until 2021, as the FIBA World Cup will also be held every 4 years beginning in 2019.

Anyway, back to EuroBasket. FIBA World Cup and Olympic qualifying spots are no longer on the line in this tournament. Or any ‘continental-specific’ tourney, including FIBA Americas, AfroBasket, and the FIBA Asia tourneys. Entirely different and complex qualifying systems will take over. I think that’s a bad decision by FIBA, but we’ll see over the years if they got it correct or not.

But there’s a ton of pride and prestige still at stake in Europe. Depending on who you talk to, EuroBasket is a better tournament than even the FIBA World Cup and the Olympics. 24 teams compete for gold, silver, and bronze. Next year will be the 40th time this tourney is held. There will actually be 4 host countries as well

So what’s with these 2017 EuroBasket qualifying games? Well, Turkey, Romania, Israel, and Finland have already qualified for next year as host countries of EuroBasket. Spain, Lithuania, France, Serbia, Greece, Italy, Czech Republic, Latvia, and Mario Hezonja‘s Croatia have also already locked up spots.

That leaves 11 of the 24 spots up for grabs over these next few weeks. The qualifying round has 27 teams broken out into 7 groups. The winners of each group and the four best second-placed teams qualify for EuroBasket 2017. Only Group C had 3 teams in its group, the other 6 groups have four countries. It’s home-away round-robin style.

Montenegro is in Group F along with Slovakia, Georgia, and Albania. I favor Montenegro to win the group. Maybe even go undefeated, but the schedule gets weird with 3 straight road games in the middle of their 6-game schedule.

Their first EuroBasket qualifying game comes Wednesday August 31st, when Montenegro hosts Slovakia in its capitol of Podgorica at 3 p.m. EST (9 p.m. local time). Their venue is the Morača Sports Center that holds about 4,500 spectators.

The rest of the schedule goes like this:

September 3rd @ Albania at the Asllan Rusi Sports Palace in Tirana

September 7th @ Georgia at the Sports Palace in Tbilisi

September 10th @ Slovakia at the City Hall in Nitra

September 14th v. Albania at the Topolica Sport Hall in Bar

September 17th v. Georgia at the Topolica Sport Hall in Bar

All game times are in the evening in Europe, and afternoon here on the U.S. East Coast. The Topolica Sports Hall in Bar has a capacity of 2,625 spectators.

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Getting to Know the Beastly Bismack Biyombo

2016 August 29

BiyomboFingerWag

Bismack Biyombo’s breakout performance in this year’s Eastern Conference Finals was for many fans a first look at the under-the-radar big man. Given the opportunity to play starter minutes for the Toronto Raptors in Jonas Valanciunas’ absence, Bismack put the league on notice as he torched Cleveland in games 3 and 4 for a combined total of 7 blocks and 40 rebounds.

Dominating the glass and paint on both ends of the court, while completely neutralizing the 80-Million-Dollar-Man Tristan Thompson, Biyombo earned himself a lofty 4-year contract under the new Frank Vogel-led Magic.

 

 

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Penny & Pops Podcast: The Magic’s Top-25 Players Polling Ends

2016 August 28
by Adam Papageorgiou

 

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The Orlando Magic Top-25 all-time player Twitter fan polling list finally concluded as we look at all of the mistakes made. Horace Grant or Rashard Lewis? Dwight Howard or Shaquille O’Neal? Anfernee Hardaway or Tracy McGrady?

More storytime sharing occurred. Mario Hezonja‘s Olympic run with Croatia ended in the quarterfinals. The 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend will appropriately be in New Orleans.

Penny Hardaway again displays his love for Orlando. A fun tale involving former Philadelphia 76ers GM Billy King gets told. Bill Simmons is still wrong no matter how hard he tries to convince J.J. Redick otherwise.

Hair and YouTube videos somehow get brought up. As do Erie BayHawks tryouts, Bismack Biyombo heading Basketball Without Borders in Angola, Vucevic representing Montenegro, and poor Evan Fournier looking unrecognizable in NBA 2K17.

Warning: Adult Language

 

 

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.

***Join Magic Basketball Online on Facebook and our post-only Twitter profile***

Evan Fournier’s NBA 2K17 Profile Gets Social Media Treatment

2016 August 26
by Adam Papageorgiou

fournier 2k17 template

We are a month away from Orlando Magic training camp beginning. NBA fans are usually bored out of their minds this time of year, but that’s where the wonderful invention of video games comes in. September will be dominated by talk of the new NBA 2K17 game, and this is where team and player ratings/rankings are beginning to get revealed.

This is where Friday took a bit of an unfortunate turn for wing player Evan Fournier. The 23-year-old Frenchman dropped a tweet that showed his rating as well as what he’ll look like in the game.

 

 

Uh…yeah…Ronnie2K has some explaining to do.

So my reactions to this ‘reveal’ went in this order:

  1. That’s not Evan Fournier, not even close
  2. That Magic jersey looks wrong, especially the narrow ‘MAGIC’ font
  3. His eyes are haunting
  4. How long before Nikola Vucevic makes a balding joke?
  5. That 78 rating seems a tad bit low

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Biyombo to Participate in Basketball Without Borders in Angola

2016 August 23
by Adam Papageorgiou

bwb africa

Newly signed Orlando Magic big man Bismack Biyombo and team head of pro scouting Harold Ellis will be among the participating NBA and FIBA figures at the first Basketball without Borders (BWB) Africa Camp in Angola.

It will be held August 31st through September 3rd at Pavilhão Multiusos do Kilamba in Luanda for the top 87 boys and girls from 27 African countries. Biyombo – from the Democratic Republic of the Congo – will be one of the main faces volunteering their time.

BWB Africa will be supported by the Angolan Basketball Federation (Federaçao Angolana de Basquetebol) and the Angola Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Other NBA players who will attend include Eric Bledsoe (Phoenix Suns; U.S.), Luc Mbah a Moute (LA Clippers; Cameroon; BWB Africa 2003), Salah Mejri (Dallas Mavericks; Tunisia), Thabo Sefolosha (Atlanta Hawks; Switzerland), and Cody Zeller (Charlotte Hornets; U.S.).

The NBA players will be joined by NBA Global Ambassador and Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo (Democratic Republic of the Congo); former NBA players Charlie Bell (U.S.), Jason Collins (U.S.), ex-Magic man Olumide Oyedeji (Nigeria); and former WNBA players Astou Ndiaye-Diatta (Senegal), and Jenn Lacy (U.S.). And then there’s a plethora of coaches and front office folks.

A record 10 African players were on NBA rosters at the start of last season, and five African players were selected in June’s Draft. The camp has always been designed to provide young players from across the continent a chance at on-court success, while helping to set them up for great lives off it.

BWB is celebrating its 15th anniversary this summer.

Working closely with longtime NBA Cares partners UNICEF and Hoops 4 Hope, NBA Cares will organize a variety of community outreach efforts teaching the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle, and the values of the game.

NBA players and coaches will host a Jr. NBA basketball clinic at Kilamba Arena for 100 boys and girls from two schools in the Luanda area. NBA Cares will also support two local schools – Blue Horizon Orphanage and School and Escola 1056 – with refurbishments, donations, and a visit from NBA players during the trip. In addition, Hoops 4 Hope will lead daily life skills sessions for the campers, focusing on HIV/AIDS prevention, education, leadership lessons, and character development.

Nike will outfit the campers and coaches with Nike apparel and footwear.

Since 2001, BWB has reached more than 2,500 participants from 131 countries and territories. 43 campers have been drafted into the NBA, including 9 BWB Africa campers. 21 former BWB campers were on opening-night rosters for the 2015-2016 NBA season.

The first-ever Basketball without Borders camp took place in Europe in July 2001. Since then, the NBA and FIBA have staged 46 BWB camps in 27 cities across 23 countries on six continents. More than 215 current and former NBA, WNBA, and FIBA players have joined more than 170 NBA team personnel from all 30 NBA teams to support BWB across the world.

Last year, it was Nikola Vucevic who made the trip to South Africa as he participated in that BWB session. It’s undeniably a wonderful experience for all volunteers.

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Erie BayHawks 2016-2017 Season Schedule Released

2016 August 22
by Adam Papageorgiou

erie

The 2016-2017 season will be the last one in which the Orlando Magic have a relationship with their BayHawks D-League team up in Erie, Pennsylvania. Lakeland, Florida is expected to be the home base of Orlando’s developmental team come the start of the ’17-’18 campaign. But, I’m jumping the gun a bit. The NBA Development League released their ’16-’17 schedule on Monday.

The BayHawks’ season tips off November 12th at Erie Insurance Arena against the Windy City Bulls, one of 3 new teams to join the D-League this upcoming campaign. The complete schedule can be viewed here.

Conferences and divisions shifted as a result of the three additional franchises and the relocation of two others: The Idaho Stampede to Salt Lake City Stars, and Bakersfield Jam to Northern Arizona Suns.

The BayHawks remain in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference and welcome the Greensboro Swarm (Charlotte’s team) and Long Island Nets (Brooklyn’s squad). The Delaware 87ers, Maine Red Claws, and Westchester Knicks round out the remainder of the division.

With the shift finalized, the BayHawks have 40 conference games and 10 non-conference games scheduled. Two additional regular season games will be played at the annual NBA D-League Showcase in January. Those games and location will be announced at a later date.

The ’16-’17 season marks the BayHawks’ 9th season as a NBA Development League franchise, and 3rd season as the affiliate of the Magic. Bill Peterson will once again be the head coach.

 

Adam Papageorgiou is Owner/Editor of MBO.

***Join Magic Basketball Online on Facebook and our post-only Twitter profile***

30 Years Ago, ‘Orlando Magic Day’ Was Born

2016 August 21
by Adam Papageorgiou

06behindthename300

August 22, 1986 isn’t marked down as a special day in Orlando Magic franchise history. It probably should be. 1986 was the year the Central Florida area was going to leap into the professional sports spotlight…whether its residents were planning on it or not.

June 19, 1986 is a fairly famous day for those alive at the time. That was the morning that local businessman Jim Hewitt and the then recently ex-Philadelphia 76ers General Manager Pat Williams unveiled orange t-shirts that read ‘Orlando on the Way to the NBA’ and officially announced to anyone willing to listen that Orlando was throwing its hat into the ring of National Basketball Association expansion.

Think about 1986 for a minute. The metropolitan population of the Orlando area is over 2.3 million people now. Three decades ago, it was about 600,000.

That was back when Orlando was literally known for Disney World, orange trees, golfing, and a place to go to retire. College football and MLB spring training only occupied a tiny portion of the 12-month calendar. No major professional sports franchises to call their own. Dirt and gravel roads – or at least poorly paved concrete ones – were everywhere.

There were plans for the town’s first big-time arena to be built so that they could begin attracting various events, but the financing was far from approved when this NBA conquest began. Getting an NBA franchise would certainly accelerate and solidify those plans. Williams, Hewitt, and a tiny staff began accepting $100 season ticket deposits from residents so that evidence could be given to the NBA that basketball in Orlando could work.

July 27, 1986 was the day the potential Orlando franchise got their name. ‘Magic’. This is where immense ambition from a few individuals can be a wonderful thing when it comes to inspiring the masses. Everyone was skeptical of what Hewitt and Williams were looking to accomplish. Citizens, politicians, media. ‘Why would the NBA come here?’

Well, through a ton of perseverance in a short amount of time, local opinions changed fast. It’s tough to pinpoint exactly when belief kicked in, but I’d like to think an August 18, 1986 Orange County Board of Commissioners meeting played a noticeable role in letting its citizens know that this pursuit of an NBA franchise was no joke.

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