Orlando Magic wing player Evan Fournier and his French national team had a scare on Day 1 of EuroBasket action. The Group A hosts needed overtime to defeat a pesky Finland team 97-87 on Saturday. Evan Fournier tallied 8 points on 3-for-7 shooting (2-of-3 on 3s), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal in 17 minutes off the bench.
This guy is going to be so much fun in an Orlando Magic jersey. I’ll be telling myself that a lot these next few weeks as Mario Hezonja had a very successful EuroBasket debut for Croatian senior national team on Saturday. Croatia defeated Slovenia 80-73 to begin Group C play 1-0. Croatia’s 43-25 rebounding advantage was immense in the result.
Mario Hezonja finished with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting (2-for-5 on 3s) as well as 6 rebounds, 1 assists, and 1 steal in 24 solid minutes. The 3 turnovers are not a big deal since he handled the ball a lot despite playing on the wings. Slovenia’s fans traveled very well to Zagreb, while of course the Croatians provided a beautiful atmosphere to fulfill their part.
In the morning practice leading up to today’s game, Mario was the last one to leave the court. Taking jumpers in anticipation for his first EuroBasket. Mario got the start, and I’m a big fan of Croatia’s Starting 5.
The start of every EuroBasket always brings such great anticipation. Again, Janis Timma won’t be playing for the Orlando Magic this upcoming season, but that doesn’t mean that won’t change in the future. It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on the 23-year-old as the Magic hold his NBA rights. Timma’s first major tournament game for the Latvian senior national team was an overall success as Latvia won 78-67 over Belgium to begin Group D 1-0 in front of their home fans in Riga. Janis Timma fouled out with 5 points, 5 rebounds (2 offensive), and 3 assists in 19 minutes of action, but he had a large impact on the contest.
You’ve seen the #5 pick of the 2015 NBA Draft at the Orlando Magic Summer League drain a game-winner and throw down dunks. You’ve seen his highlights from international friendlies. It’s time for Mario Hezonja to hit the EuroBasket big stage for the Croatian senior national team…and on home turf on top of that.
‘Super Mario’ has had some impressive moments and a few solid stat lines during Croatia’s 9-0 exhibition schedule, but it’s really tough to predict how much playing time the 20-year-old will get as the youngest member of the 12-man squad. Especially considering how wing-heavy the roster is.
Despite struggling in the first half, Canada dispatched of Puerto Rico 112-92 on Friday night to conclude Group B action. That’s a lot of points for a 40-minute game. Orlando Magic fans should be concerned with Andrew Nicholson as he continues to have issues making a positive on-court impact. In ten minutes, Andrew posted 3 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steals. Melvin Ejim played 11 minutes, but his production continues to please the coaching staff. 4 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists on the night.
Canada ended up out-rebounding Puerto Rico 51-36. Canada also shot 33-of-44 from the free throw line as they did a nice job of attacking when need be, while also assisting on 25 of their 33 made field goals. Canada improves to a 3-1 record while Puerto Rico is at 1-3. Both teams progress to the second group stage that begins on Sunday.
I’ll be honest, I almost forgot about Janis Timma too. The 6’7″ 220-pound wing man is property of the Orlando Magic though thanks to that Luke Ridnour trade a few months ago. The 23-year-old signed a 2-year deal with Zenit St. Petersburg, so he may be spending a few more years in Europe developing and maturing before the Magic give him a real shot at making the roster in the future.
Still, it’d be wise to keep an eye on a player who could have a large impact for the Latvian senior national team this month. Statistically speaking, Timma may have a better EuroBasket than both Evan Fournier and Mario Hezonja. Janis has had some very solid exhibition performances leading up to September 5th.
In what was their best Group B performance so far at the FIBA Americas Championship, Canada improved to a 2-1 record by taking down previously undefeated Venezuela 82-62 on Thursday night. They didn’t stuff the stat sheets, but Orlando Magic players Andrew Nicholson and Melvin Ejim each had some highlights in the solid victory. Ejim played 13 minutes and tallied 6 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal. Nicholson only saw eight minutes of court time and posted 2 points and 2 rebounds.
Venezuela was not a team to take lightly as they entered the evening 2-0 having beaten Cuba and Puerto Rico. Canada got great first quarter play from Kelly Olynyk and Nik Stauskas as Canada led 25-15 after ten minutes. Nicholson started the second period in relief of Olynyk.
Andrew’s first shot came with about eight minutes left until halftime, a missed open right-wing 3-pointer. Captain Cory Joseph a minute later found Andrew Nicholson for a nice 2-hand baseline dunk to put Canada up 29-20. Ejim soon after checked in and immediately got fouled cutting to the basket, earning free throws. That’s what the Magic will need from their support players: smart, aggressive play.
It’s nice to see Head Coach Jay Triano trust Ejim by sticking him with the starters (minus Olynyk, and then later Anthony Bennett) at PF for the final five minutes of the half. Melvin again is one of those guys that does a lot of great things that don’t show up on the stat sheet, but he did help grow that lead. Canada led 47-28 at the break as Melvin ran the court well on the break. Andrew Wiggins found Ejim for a dunk with two seconds left in the quarter. Ejim had 6 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 1 steal in 6:27, all in that 2nd period.
Ejim checked back in with under three minutes left in the third period and Canada up 61-45. Venezuela liked to play a little dirty, but despite their more frequent player substitutions they still were hitting the oxygen tanks harder than their red and white foes. Nicholson checked into the contest in the final minute of the third. Canada led 64-48 entering the fourth period.
Andrew and Melvin both started the fourth. It didn’t go too well, especially for Melvin who missed a few open jumpers. Venezuela had chopped Canada’s lead down to 67-54 with 7:12 left in regulation before Triano had seen enough and threw his starters back in. Triano’s starters did their job and Nicholson and Ejim spent the final minute and a half on the court.
Canada keeps it moving along as they take on Rick Pitino’s Puerto Rico team on Friday at 7 p.m. EST to finish off Group B play. Both teams have progressed to the second group stage round with Cuba being sent home. With Cuba being eliminated, Canada’s victory over them gets ‘erased’ once we move on to the beginning the second group stage on Sunday. With Argentina remaining undefeated and most likely finishing in first place in Group B, Canada is looking at slotting themselves into 2nd with a win over 1-2 Puerto Rico who had the day off on Thursday.
The Orlando Magic introduced their ‘Fast Break Pass’ last season. The way it worked was you could purchase either an 8-game Fall Pass or an 11-game Fall PLUS Pass. They were cheap, and glorious. You wouldn’t know where your seat was until 15 minutes before tip-off, and your ‘pass’ could only be accessed using the Orlando Magic mobile app. It was a smart way to get fans to attend all Amway Center preseason games while mixing in some sweet home regular season contests, all at a great low value.
The Fast Break Pass is back for the ’15-’16 campaign, and the ticket options have expanded immensely from two to five. The Pass has been promoted once again on Living Social as well. It’s no longer an 8-game or 11-game options either. There is a 12-game ‘Fall Pass’, a 14-game ‘Fall PLUS Pass’, a 15-game ‘Weekday Pass’, a 12-game ‘Weekend Pass’, and an enormous 34-game ‘Season Pass’.
34 NBA games for $299? I don’t care if you’re sitting in the nosebleeds for every single game, that’s a phenomenal value. All of the pass options are awesome, honestly. If the Magic are good, don’t expect to be in the lower bowl often (if at all). If you had the ‘Fast Break Pass’ last season, I’d like to have you comment below about your experience and how your seats were. Obviously the majority of purchasers must have had a great experience for the Magic to expand on their offerings.
Read the Magic’s FAQ for more details. Just like last year, you can’t buy more than 4 passes per account. If I wasn’t fortunate enough to be able to attend Magic home games as a media member, I would most definitely pounce on one of these offers. I expect these packages to be popular all across Central Florida.
Around this time last year, Evan Fournier was celebrating a bronze medal at the 2014 FIBA World Cup. It was his first campaign with France’s senior national team, so not a bad way to begin a lengthy tenure. Orlando Magic training camp is a little less than four weeks away, but the 22-year-old has kept himself more than busy once again this NBA offseason with his French national team.
It’s time for the 39th FIBA European Basketball Championship, more commonly known as EuroBasket. September 5th through the 20th. France won the 2013 tournament in Slovenia, but Fournier was a late cut from that 12-man squad. Not this time around. It’s decent timing too with France as the hosts. Group A will take place in the 10,700-seat arena in Montpellier. Once the 24 teams get cut down to 16, then the knockout stage will occur in the very large 27,500-seat Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille. That’s potentially a lot of screaming French folks.
France should cruise through and top Group A. Russia, Bosnia-Herzigovina, Finland, Poland, and Israel are all very flawed opponents. Russia has a bunch of mediocre veterans. Bosnia-Herzigovina has limited talent. Finland may prove to be the biggest challenge with Jamar Wilson joining Petteri Koponen and a Finnish side that was a pleasant surprise two years ago, finishing 9th. Poland only really has Marcin Gortat and A.J. Slaughter. Israel always seems to underachieve a bit as they enter the tourney with Omri Casspi, Lior Eliyahu, Yaniv Green and Gal Mekel.
If they don’t succumb to boredom, the French should go undefeated entering the knockout stage. Top four in the group progress to the Round of 16, so two teams are going home early. For now, I’ll predict that Bosnia-Herzigovina and Israel get booted. France’s Group A is a walk in the park in comparison to the deadly Group B, and difficult Group C.
Team Canada improved to 1-1 in Group B play at the FIBA Americas Championship after annihilating Cuba on Wednesday, defeating them 101-59. Orlando Magic players Andrew Nicholson and Melvin Ejim each played thirteen minutes off the bench. Nicholson finished with 2 points (1-of-2), 4 rebounds, and 1 block while Ejim tallied 5 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Canada took transition points 36-4, rebounds 52-34, and held Cuba to an awful 28% shooting. Yikes.
It was pretty much game over from the beginning when Canada led 11-0 as Jay Triano’s staff figured out it was probably a decent idea to run much of the offense through Andrew Wiggins. Canada was up 30-10 after the first ten-minute session. Wiggins finished with 15 points, so did Nik Stauskas.
Three minutes before halftime, Stauskas was leading a fast break and he’d make a nifty little behind-the-back flip pass to the converging Ejim. Melvin converted and Canada was up 43-17. Again, it was a slaughter. Ejim’s only other made bucket was the dunk you see in the photo to put Canada up 96-52 with three minutes remaining in the contest. Not a bad way to bounce back from a tough loss to Argentina on Tuesday.
Nicholson didn’t even attempt a shot until there was 7 minutes left in the fourth period. Andrew sank a nearly uncontested shotput floater near the right baseline. ‘Drew shortly after attempted a top-of-the-key 3-pointer, but missed the wide open look. A few seconds later, he sat with Canada up 41 points with over five minutes left in the contest.
Next up for Canada is Venezuela on Thursday. Game is at 7 p.m. EST, so plenty of time to beat the I-4 traffic on your way home. Tough to predict whether we’ll see Nicholson or Ejim average more than the ten or so minutes they’ve been receiving through two games. Ejim has definitely made the larger impact though up to this moment. As always, you can watch the all of the FIBA games live and on replay on watchespn.com or the Watch ESPN phone app.