By Josh Cohen
Sept. 3, 2017
ORLANDO — The French basketball program is so deep and rich in confidence that the absence of some of its prominent stars isn’t much of a deterrence.
With Tony Parker retired (and injured) from his national team and other familiar faces like Rudy Gobert and Nicolas Batum not participating at EuroBasket 2017, France is still one of the top teams in Europe.
Especially against more inexperienced opponents, France usually is able to overwhelm challengers with its depth, chemistry, experience and excellent coaching.
That basically sums up Sunday’s drubbing of Iceland. With its starters playing limited minutes, France’s reserves stepped up and carried them to a 115-79 victory in Helsinki.
Evan Fournier played a shade under 10 minutes and finished with seven points. He erupted for 46 points combined in France’s first two games against Finland and Greece.
France came out after halftime with a purpose after Iceland fought hard in the opening 20 minutes. The French racked up 37 points in that tide-turning frame and for the game shot 68 percent from the field and made 10-of-18 from 3-point range.
The bench exploded for 68 points and France dished out 31 assists. Nando de Colo led six players in double figures with 16 points.
Jon Arnor Stefansson posted a game-high 23 points for Iceland, which is competing in EuroBasket for the second straight time after failing to qualify in the past.
France’s next opponent in Group A pool play is Poland, which features a familiar face to Orlando Magic fans. Przemek Karnowski, who starred at Gonzaga and played for the Magic’s summer league team this past July, is playing for his home nation.